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Syrian army rolls militants back to border of northern Idlib province

October 29, 2015, 15:41 UTC+3 MUREK

"The ultimate aim is to reach the Turkish border and to force the terrorists out of Syrian territory altogether," a Syrian captain says

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MUREK /Hama province/, October 29. /TASS/. With the combined support of Syrian and Russian warplanes, Syria’s government army is pushing terrorist militants back to the borders of northern Idlib province. Government forces’ artillery has been pounding Sukeik, Tamana and Khan-Sheikhun, which small terrorist groups affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra captured several years ago.

During the less than one hour spent by a group of Russian journalists at the artillery battery under Captain Nasr, his seven 130-millimeter M-46 guns and two GRAD multiple rocket-launchers fired no less than 40 shells and rockets at militant strongholds and command centers 10 kilometers away.

"We took up this position and fortified it several days ago with the aim of forcing militants back towards Idlib province and clear the whole of Hama province," Captain Nasr told visiting frontline reporters. "The ultimate aim is to reach the Turkish border and to force the terrorists out of Syrian territory altogether."

MiG-21 and MiG-23 planes of the Syrian air force fly daily sorties from an air base in Hama to provide air support for the offensive on the ground.

Right behind the gunners’ backs there lie the ruins of Murek, a tiny community that was once a home to 2,000 families, most of them peaceful farmers. There is not a single home left intact. The Imam Ali ben-Abi Taleb mosque is razed to the ground. The streets are littered with concrete fragments and broken glass.

Although Murek’s condition is really deplorable, the militants never cease attempts to recapture this strategic gateway to Hama. Hostilities continue non-stop as terrorists try to identify potential weaknesses in the Syrian defences.

"They look adamant at taking over the city again. The place has changed hands several times of late," says Syrian army private Mazen, who suffered a gunshot wound in the leg last month. "The sniper hit me from that hill over there," Mazen recalls.

Just as hundreds of his fellow soldiers, Mazen is certain that now, with the backing of Russia’s air group, victory in that war is round the corner.

"Thank you, Russia," says he, as several dozen Syrian soldiers around echo him in chorus.

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