Thursday 24 September 2020
News ID: 75562
Publish Date: 26 January 2020 - 22:00
Last Terrorist Bastion on Brink of Liberation
BEIRUT (Dispatches) -- Syrian government forces have taken control of several towns in northwestern Idlib province, a war monitor and Syrian state media reported, amid a renewed push by President Bashar al-Assad to recapture the last militant stronghold.
The so-called Syrian Observatory, a war monitor, said on Sunday that six towns in the Idlib countryside had fallen to Syrian government forces in the past 24 hours.
The London-based Observatory said the government advance has brought Syrian forces to the outskirts of Maarat al-Numan, a strategic urban center about 33 km (20 miles) south of the city of Idlib on a highway that connects Damascus to Aleppo.
Syria’s Al-Watan newspaper reported that army forces were "just around the corner” from the city, whose "doors are wide open”.
The push deeper into terrorist-held territory has taken place despite a deal between Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict, for a Jan. 12 ceasefire.
Syrian troops are fighting Takfiri terrorists who have stepped up attacks on civilians in Aleppo city in northern Syria.
"The army’s response will not be limited to the origins of attacks by armed terrorist organizations and will include devastating field operations that will not cease until the remnants of armed terrorism is uprooted,” a military source was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.
Idlib and nearby areas of Hama, Aleppo and Latakiya provinces are threatened by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group, led by members of the former Al-Qaeda franchise.
Idlib remains the only large area in the hands of terrorists after the Syrian military managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.
SANA said the terror outfits occupying Idlib and Aleppo countryside use locals as human shields and prevent them from leaving to safe areas through Abu al-Dohour, Habit and Hader corridors.
Jabhat al-Nusra and affiliated terrorist groups have established a number of monitoring posts in the areas adjacent to the recently liberated areas in a bid to block the civilians’ exodus, the report added.
On Saturday, Syria’s Foreign Ministry wrote to the UN, stressing that the operation in Idlib and Aleppo against Takfiri elements "will not stop until the elimination of those terrorists, who threaten safety and security of Syrian civilians.”
In two letters sent to the UN chief and the head of the Security Council, the ministry complained that armed terrorist groups, particularly Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, continue to target civilians and facilities such as hospitals, schools and places of worship in Idlib and Aleppo.
The militants prevent locals from leaving the occupied towns to safe areas, according to the letters.
"The precise and well studied military operations carried out by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies in Aleppo and Idlib come after the appeals from the Syrian citizens in these two governorates, and in

response to the systematic crimes committed by the armed terrorist groups which continue to exploit the unwavering military and logistic support provided by Western countries and their tools in the region,” the letters read.
Also on Saturday, the Pentagon announced that an American soldier had died in Syria, adding that the incident was under investigation.
According to a release by the department, Army Specialist Antonio I. Moore, 22, from Wilmington, North Carolina, died in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr Province on Friday "during a rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations.”
General Frank McKenzie, the U.S. Middle East commander, made an unannounced tour of five military bases in Syria, during which he was asked about the future of American troops in the Arab country.
"This is an area where we made a commitment. I think we’re going to be here for a while,” he replied.
On Saturday morning, McKenzie met with Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) - a U.S.-backed alliance of mainly Kurdish militants. He said that Abdi wanted assurances that Washington would continue to help SDF militants.
The U.S. commander said his answer was that Washington would continue to partner with militants and control Syrian oil fields, but that he had not put a deadline on it.
"He knows, and I agree, that we’re not going to be here for 100 years,” McKenzie said during a stop at Green Village military outpost, east of Dayr al-Zawr.
"I frankly don’t know how long we’re going to be here and I have no instructions other than to continue to work with our partner here.”

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