Syrian troops approaching rebel-held air base in the north

Aaron Brown
January 14, 2018

Regime forces backed by Russian warplanes launched an offensive on December 25 in Idlib province, the last in the country that remained fully outside the government's control.

Almost three million people are believed to be in the Idlib region, their numbers swelled by fighters and civilians who fled Syrian army advances elsewhere in the country.

"We are witnessing a clear intensification of Russia's military strategy, with systematic attacks on civilian facilities perpetrated with total disregard for worldwide law", warns Fadel Abdul Ghany, Chairperson of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

The al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) refused to join the two rebel operation parts, and chose to fight the Syrian army alone, according to the report.

Recapturing the Abu Zuhour air base, which the rebels took in 2015, has been one of the main targets of a major government offensive into Idlib that began in late October.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said regime forces were able to enter Abu Duhur airbase under air cover and were engaged in fierce fighting with the jihadists.

However, opposition groups are reported to have made substantial gains in the south of the region since yesterday, allegedly making use of Turkish supplied weaponry, including armoured vehicles, mortars and rockets.

The stance of the French Foreign Ministry has proven to be based on "ignorance" of what is happening in the countrysides of Hama and Idlib, the Syrian ministry said, adding that the Syrian army is fighting the LLC, which was previously known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

Around 1,337 civilians were killed previous year in regime-surrounded Eastern Ghouta due to rising Bashar al-Assad regime attacks, according to the White Helmets.

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