12/20/2019, 18.08
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Final winter offensive against Idlib

by Pierre Balanian

Syrian media report advances by the Syrian army against terrorist stronghold. The Syrian army attacked on land, Russian ships fired rockets from the sea, and Russian planes struck from the sky. Rebels fired at villages and Aleppo’s Al Layramoun district, killing 14 civilians, 5 children included. At least 302 people died in rebel-held areas.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – Syrian newspapers this morning carried big headlines about "the progress of military units of the Syrian Arab army” that yesterday evening launched an offensive against the rebel stronghold of Idlib.

According to papers, the intent is "to destroy the defensive front of the terrorist Ajnad al-Kavkaz[*] and Al Nusra (formerly Al Qaeda) in the southern part of Idlib" with “air cover provided by Syrian and Russian planes”.

Residents of Syria’s coastal region told AsiaNews that activity at the Khmeimim Air Base has intensified with planes flying towards of Idlib. A deacon from Latakia reported that "from the sea one can clearly see rockets launched by Russian Navy ships in the direction of Idlib".

Only a week ago, at a press conference in Washington, the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the need to completely free Idlib by taking it back for the Syrian government. He also complained of Turkey’s inability to identify and separate the armed opposition from Al Nusra terrorists.

The battle for Idlib, where Syrian dissidents are caught up along with radical Islamic terrorist organisations, seems to be nearing its end.

Recently, radical groups like Hayʼat Taḥrīr al-Shām (Levant Liberation Committee), Tanẓīm Ḥurrās ad-Dīn (Guardians of Religion), and the opposition Syrian National Army had intensified the bombing of positions held by the Syrian army in Awal Tamanima, Khalakhil and Zarzur, Idlib Governorate.  Aleppo residents also told AsiaNews that the city was also hit causing casualties.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that opposition armed factions fired rockets against Al-Rasif, Al-Aziziyah, two villages west of Hama, as well as Kratin and Al-Maghara in Idlib. Other rockets landed in Al-Layramoun, a district of Aleppo, killing 14 civilians, including 5 children.

SOHR has also reported rebel losses in Idlib. At least 302 people died during fighting with the Syrian army and as a result of Russian air strikes.

[*] Ajnad al-Kavkaz: Soldiers of the Caucasus, a Jihadi rebel group composed of Chechen and Azerbaijani terrorists.

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