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Syrian regime advances on Turkish border as thousands flee

The Syrian army and allies are reportedly attempting to block supplies to cut-off rebels [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2016

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Syrian regime forces have advanced towards the Turkish border, backed by heavy Russian airstrikes and poised to capture the opposition-held town of Tal Rifaat in a bid to cut-off rebels.

Syrian regime troops and militias pushed towards a rebel-held town near the Turkish border, forcing tens thousands of civilians to flee the advancing force.

Tal Rifaat is just 20 kilometres from the Turkish frontier,
which saw masses of refugees flee to after a Russian-backed offensive in northern Aleppo last week.

The town is one of the last rebel strongholds in the north of Aleppo province and regime fighters are just seven kilometres away, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the observatory, said regime troops want to push north to the border with Turkey to prevent rebels and weapons from entering Syrian territory.

Syrian pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said on Sunday that the capture of Tal Rifaat would be a major prize for the regime.

"If it falls, the army will be able to progress and seize control of all of the northern part of Aleppo province," the paper said.

The Syrian army is moving to consolidate its gains in Aleppo province and tighten the noose around rebel-held areas

Regime forces backed by intense Russian air raids have closed in on Aleppo city in their most significant advance since Moscow intervened in September to back President Bashar al-Assad's government, which appeared to be losing the war.

Syria's mainstream rebels are now threatened with collapse after the regime severed their main supply line to Aleppo and appeared poised to completely encircle opposition territories in city.

Opposition forces along with roughly 350,000 civilians are in rebel-held areas of the divided city of Aleppo and face the risk of a government siege.

Punitive blockades have been employed by the regime elsewhere in the nearly five-year civil war, causing dire humanitarian situations including starvation.

Since Saturday night, government forces have surrounded the rebel bastion of Daraya in Damascus province and threaten to destroy the uprising in the south.

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