Syrian rebels declare counter attack in Idlib province
14 January, 2018, 00:35 | Author: Katrina Soto
Russian-backed regime forces launched an offensive at the end of 2017 on the edge of Idlib province, the last in the country still fully outside the government's control.
In their counter-offensive Thursday, the rebels captured the towns of Khwein, Atshan Abu Omar, and Um Khalakhel from the Syrian army. FSA rebels and the Nusra Front had been reported to have been fighting.
A military media unit run by the Assad regime's Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and a Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Friday the army had recaptured several villages taken in the rebel counterattack.
The regime lost control of the Abu Duhur airbase in 2015 after a two-year siege by jihadists, with only the Shiite villages of Fuaa and Kafraya remaining under its control in the whole province.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Thursday he should stop Syrian attacks on its opposition in northern Syria if he wants peace negotiations to succeed, Turkish presidential sources said.
Both the Syrian army and Moscow deny hitting civilian areas and say intensive raids only strike at militants.
In a statement, the ministry expressed astonishment over the "French Foreign Ministry's persistence in carrying out the misleading campaign of the French public opinion toward what is happening in Syria and using the humanitarian side as a pretext to do so".
It also said it was "outraged" by the ongoing siege in Eastern Ghouta, another rebel-held area, where the United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday that at least 85 civilians have been killed since December 31.
Idlib province is nearly entirely controlled by a jihadi outfit known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) consisting mostly of fighters from a former al-Qaida affiliate.
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