MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. /TASS/. Syrian government troops withdrew from the village of Nayrab in the Idlib governorate, the Al-Masdar news portal reported on Monday citing sources in the provincial administration.
According to the report, militants supported by Turkish artillery and tanks attacked positions held by the pro-governmental troops thrice in the past day. While repelling the assaults, Syrian servicemen killed more than 150 militants.
Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported earlier on Monday that opposition forces captured Nayrab, a village west of the strategically important area town of Saraqib, and it was now completely under their control.
Situation in Idlib
Idlib is the only Syrian region that has been controlled by illegal armed groups, including the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, since 2012. A northern de-escalation zone was set up in Idlib in 2017 to give shelter to militants who refused to surrender arms in Eastern Ghouta and Syria’s southern regions. The Turkish army has 12 observation outposts in the province.
The situation in Idlib deteriorated dramatically after the Russian and Turkish taskforces had made another attempt to enforce a ceasefire. Terrorists only intensified their attacks instead, killing Russian and Turkish military specialists.
The Syrian army launched a military operation in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib on January 25, after militants had once again disrupted an agreement declaring a ceasefire in the northern de-escalation zone. After defeating militant groups on the outskirts of Aleppo, government troops regained control of over half of the Idlib province, driving terrorists away from a strategically important road connecting Damascus and Aleppo. Their rapid advancement angered Ankara, which supports armed groups of the Syrian opposition.
In the morning of February 11, the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition launched mass-scale attacks on the Syrian government army on two fronts - the town of Saraqib and the community of Nayrab situated to the north of Saraqib in Idlib. The opposition’s offensive was carried out with the fire support from the Turkish artillery. Jabhat al-Nusra (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) militants took an active part in the fighting. Syrian forces repelled these attacks, while militants suffered heavy losses, with many killed and wounded. A similar attempt was made on February 20, but it also failed.
On February 19, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that Damascus withdrew its troops to the positions they held in late December. He also said that Ankara is ready to use all of its firepower in case of a large-scale military operation, adding that the start of a new operation in Idlib is a question of time, and that all preparations for it are complete.
Militant attacks on the positions of the Syrian army have increased in past days, causing the Syrian government forces to retaliate. On February 20, the Russian Aerospace Forces started to provide support to the Syrian army.