Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Syrian troops approaching rebel-held air base in the north

Syrian troops approaching rebel-held air base in the north

The main aim of the troops is to reach the rebel-held Abu Zuhour air base and secure the road linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest.

Syrian government forces and their allies have been on the offensive since late October in Hama and provinces, capturing almost 100 villages from insurgent groups, including the -linked Levant Liberation Committee.

Recapturing the air base has been a key government goal since late October and Syrian forces have captured some 160 villages since first launched the offensive. "I also deeply anxious about civilians affected by the upsurge in violence in Idlib.", he said.

Syrian government forces captured 14 villages on Monday as they advanced on the largest rebel-held enclave in the country's north amid a wave of airstrikes.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops were engaged in fierce fighting with al-Qaida-linked militants and other insurgents just outside Abu Zuhour.

Idlib, which borders Turkey, is one of four "de-escalation" zones in Syria covered by a deal meant to reduce violence that was struck a year ago by Turkey, Russia and government-backer Iran.

Ninety-six civilians, including 27 children, have been killed since December 25 in Syrian or Russian air strikes on Idlib, according to the observatory.


The International Rescue Committee said it had received hundreds of people newly displaced from the latest fighting in Idlib, many of them housed in makeshift tents. The woman was so frightened, she initially left one of her children behind.

Turkey is anxious about the deployment of Syrian regime forces and their allies in the north of Idlib, where they have established bases, which they said are part of an agreement with Iran and Russian Federation to establish a de-escalation zone in the province.

"We couldn't think properly".

The Observatory confirmed insurgents have retaken several villages from government troops and said 11 pro-government fighters were captured.

The Syrian government hit back on Thursday against French criticism of its military campaign in rebel-held Idlib, saying it was targeting terrorist groups that were not party to an agreement to reduce fighting in the rebel-held region.

At least 400,000 people have been killed and half of Syria's population displaced since a violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in 2011 plunged the country into civil war. It says Western sanctions have crippled its economy.

Turkish presidential sources said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the phone Thursday and told him that Moscow should stop Syrian attacks on its opposition in Idlib and eastern Ghouta near Damascus, if he wants peace negotiations to succeed.

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