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Armed opposition thwarts new regime offensive in Idlib

Local | 2019-12-14 21:34:28
Armed opposition thwarts new regime offensive in Idlib
 (Zaman Al Wasl)- Syrian armed opposition have thwarted new incursion attempt by regime forces and pro-Iran militias in northern Idlib province, following a week of heavy losses in weapons and personnel, rebel commander said Saturday.

Pro-regime militias seek to advance in the eastern countryside but rebels were able to thwart several attacks, leaving dozens killed and wounded.

On Wednesday rebels hit outpost for the regime’s elite Tiger Force and Iranian militias near the town of al-Mshairfah east of Idlib city. 22 troops killed.
 
Tiger Force led by Brig. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan, a Russian-backed Syrian officer who took credit for some of the biggest regime victories in the almost nine-year conflict.

But he has not succeeded in breaking Idlib’s defenses and remains deadlocked. According to opposition activists, elite forces from the Republican Guards and the Fourth Division led by Assad’s younger brother, Maher, have recently started taking part in the Idlib offensive, AP reported.

The regime army has been pressing to take a strategic territory located between Idlib and Latakia province to cut the main supply route and to weaken the unprecedented resistance by rebels.

Russia claims that rebels in Idlib battlefronts have killed 1500 Syrian troops and allied militants.

In its turn, Syrian warplanes have stepped up its aerial bombing on Thursday, hitting an array of villages in the eastern countryside.

The Idlib region, home to around three million people including many displaced by Syria's eight-year civil war, is controlled by the country's former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham jihadist alliance also controls parts of neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces where battles with regime forces have also recently taken place.

The region is one of the last holdouts of opposition to forces of Bashar al-Assad.

A ceasefire announced by Russia in late August has reduced violence in the area.

The Observatory estimates that nearly 1,000 civilians were killed in that period, and the UN says that more than 400,000 people were displaced.

Bashar al-Assad, who now controls around 60 percent of the country, has vowed to reclaim the rest, including Idlib and small pockets in Latakia. 

On Wednesday, Russia, Turkey, and Iran expressed concern about the increased presence of terrorist groups in Idlib province, the three countries said after talks in Kazakhstan, pledging to coordinate actions aimed at eliminating the militants.

Moscow, Ankara and Tehran "highlighted the necessity to establish calm on the ground,'' the trio said in a joint statement after the talks, also attended by representatives of the regime and the Syrian armed opposition.

The three countries also said they rejected attempts to create "new realities on the ground, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives" and that they were opposed to the illegal seizure and transfer of Syrian oil revenues.

Commenting on the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, the three nations said it should be governed by a sense of "compromise and constructive engagement" without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines.

Eight years of war in Syria have killed 560,000 people and driven half the pre-war population of 22 million from their homes, including more than 6 million as refugees to neighboring countries. Zaman Al Wasl, Agencies

Zaman Al Wasl
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