Syrian army takes militant enclaves in significant Idlib advance
Iran Press TV
Wed Aug 14, 2019 03:58PM
Syrian government forces, supported by fighters from allied popular defense groups, have taken control of a number of villages in the southern countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib, reaching the outskirts of a major stronghold for foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants there.
Syria's official news agency SANA reported that army troops and their allies succeeded on Wednesday to capture the villages of Kafr Ein, Khirbet al-Murshid, Mintar and Tel Aas following heavy clashes with members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.
An unnamed Syrian military source said the counter-terrorism operations inflicted heavy losses upon the extremists.
Director of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, said government forces were now four kilometers from the town of Khan Shaykhun.
On Tuesday, Syrian government troops engaged foreign-backed militants in Tal Tera'i area in the southeastern suburbs of Idlib as well as Taman'a town, killing and injuring scores of the Takfiris in the process.
The Syrian army declared in a statement on August 5 the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the country's northwestern province of Idlib, after Takfiris positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.
"Even though the Syrian Arab Army declared a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone of Idlib on August 1, armed terrorist groups, backed by Turkey, refused to abide by the ceasefire and launched many attacks on civilians in surrounding areas," SANA cited a statement released by the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces.
"The Turkish regime's persistence in allowing its terrorist pawns in Idlib to carry out attacks proves that Ankara is maintaining its destructive approach and is ignoring its commitments as per the Sochi agreement. This has emboldened terrorists to fortify their positions, and led to the spread of the threat of terrorism across the Syrian territory," the statement added.
The Syrian military's statement came a day after Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would launch a military operation in a Kurdish-controlled area in northern Syria.
Under the Sochi agreement, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 last year, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw two days earlier.
The National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant alliance in Idlib region, but the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, holds a large part of the province and the zone.
The HTS, which is said to be in control of some 60 percent of Idlib Province, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
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