Syrian govt forces advance south of Idlib

Elias Hubbard
August 23, 2019

Government forces took control of Morek and other nearby towns including Kafr Zita on Friday, Syrian state news agency SANA said.

"Nobody can keep our forces and soldiers trapped".

Turkey has supported some rebel factions in the northwestern Idlib region, while Russian Federation and Iran back Assad.

"The Secretary-General said that he is deeply troubled by the continued escalation in north-west Syria and the prospect of an offensive deeper into Idlib, which could trigger a new wave of human suffering possibly impacting more than 3 million people", Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told a press conference late Wednesday.

The Turkish presidency has also said that it would not abandon any of it observation posts in Syria.

The troops' mission was to oversee the establishment of a buffer zone agreed by Ankara and Moscow in September.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Russia's Vladimir Putin on Friday that Syrian army attacks in northwest Syria are causing a humanitarian crisis and threaten Turkey's national security, the Turkish presidency said.

The Turkish presidency on Friday said regime attacks in Idlib have led to a "grave humanitarian crisis".

Ten of thousands of people have fled towards the Turkish border in recent days as air and ground attacks battered parts of Idlib and Hama in northwest Syria, the country's last big rebel stronghold.

Since January, it has been ruled by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate. Ankara backs rebel forces that control swathes of territory further north near its border, and some that have a presence in Idlib. Maaret al-Numan, like Khan Sheikhoun sits on the highway linking Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest.

Erdogan told Putin, who has supported Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, that the attacks violated a ceasefire in Idlib and damaged efforts for a solution in Syria, the Turkish presidency said.

But most civilians had already fled before the pocket was cut off, according to the Observatory.

Syrian regime forces have been on the offensive in Idlib and northern parts of Hama province since April 30, forcing almost half a million people to flee to safer areas further north.

Around 900 civillians have been killed, according to the Observatory. Turkey is a strong backer of the Syrian opposition and rebels fighting Assad's forces, while Russian Federation supports Assad's government. Still, the prospect of more advances is obstructed not only by Turkey's interests near its border but also USA forces alongside Kurdish fighters in the northeast.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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