Syrian Forces Continue Lightning Advance in Country's North, Free Most of Aleppo Province – Reports
16:36 GMT 17.02.2020(updated 17:13 GMT 17.02.2020)
The Syrian Army completed the liberation of the city of Aleppo, the Arab Republic's second-largest population center, in late 2016, but militants continued to control much of the province of Aleppo in the years since, their de-facto control ensured in a 2017 peace deal.
Syrian troops have swept through many of the remaining militant-controlled areas in western and northwestern Aleppo province, capturing strategic areas including the towns of Anadan and Haritan, previously used by militants to provide logistical support and smuggle weapons into terrorist-controlled areas, rebel sources cited by Reuters have said.
"In one day, they took an area where for eight years they could not take a single village," Rami Abdulrahman, director of the controversial pro-rebel London-based 'Observatory for Human Rights' said. According to the monitor, Syrian troops had taken back a total of 13 towns and villages in the area in recent days.
On Monday, a Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) correspondent confirmed that the villages of Basarton, Hoor and Enjara had been captured, and that the Army was continuing its pursuit of terrorists as they fled through Aleppo province's western and northwestern countryside, destroying enemy fortifications and shelling militia with artillery along the way.
Furthermore, according to SANA, troops have established complete control over the area around the city of Aleppo for the first time since 2012, taking 23 villages west and north of the city in the process.
Syrian troops have also liberated wide areas of neighbouring Idlib province in northwestern Syria in recent weeks, moving to capture the crucial M-5 highway linking Aleppo and Damascus from Nusra* terrorists.
In Idlib, Syrian Army shelling of one of Turkey's 12 observation posts in the militant-held province last week prompted Turkish forces to attack dozens of Syrian targets, with Moscow urging Ankara against further escalation. Syria launched an operation in Idlib late last year following repeated violations of the 2017 ceasefire in the region by terrorists. On Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the Idlib issue would be discussed during talks in Moscow on Monday.
* a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, outlawed in Russia and many other countries.
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