Syrian state media says Turkey helped rebel attack

14 January, 2018, 00:35 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Turkish army tank stands in Esme village in Aleppo province Syria

Erdogan spoke to Putin on the phone, they said.

Ninety-six civilians, including 27 children, have been killed in Syrian or Russian airstrikes on Idlib province since the start of the offensive, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The counter-offensive was unleashed by two rebel operation parts: the first consisted of the Turkey-backed Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Ezzah, the Turkistan Party, and Nour Addien al-Zinki, while the second is formed of Jaish al-Naser, the Free Idlib Army, the Elite Forces and the Second Army rebels, opposition activists reported.

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Idlib province is nearly entirely controlled by a jihadi outfit known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) consisting mostly of fighters from a former al-Qaida affiliate.

The regime lost control of the Abu Duhur airbase in 2015 after a two-year siege by jihadists, with only the Shiite villages of Fuaa and Kafraya remaining under its control in the whole province.

Militant forces linked to the Syrian affiliate of Al-Qaeda are reinforcing their positions opposite Syrian Arab Army lines in southwest Aleppo province after initially disengaging from the region several days ago, Al-Masdar News says.

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The wide-scale counter-attack aims to foil the advance of the Syrian army and restore areas taken by the army in the northeastern countryside of Hama province in central Syria and the southeastern countryside of Idlib province in northwestern Syria.

More than 340,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, which began in 2011 as the regime brutally crushed anti-government protests. Millions have been displaced.

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.

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