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Syrian regime captures 14 villages from rebels in Idlib offensive Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Syrian regime captures 14 villages from rebels in Idlib offensive

An offensive on Idlib was expected after the defeat of IS. [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 January, 2018

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Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have captured nearly 100 villages from rebels since late October in Hama and Idlib provinces.
Syrian regime forces captured 14 villages on Monday as part of an offensive on the largest rebel-held enclave in the country's northern Idlib province.

An offensive on Idlib was expected after the defeat of the Islamic State group last year but any such operations carry significant risks.

The northern province borders Turkey and is home to an estimated two million Syrians, including tens of thousands of civilians who fled fighting elsewhere.

Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have captured nearly 100 villages from rebels since late October in Hama and Idlib provinces.

The military offensive intensified on Christmas Day after reinforcements were brought in from other parts of Syria.
The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said the newly captured villages, include Freija, Jahman, Dawoudiyeh and Jub al-Qasab.

The SCMM and the opposition's Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that 14 villages have been captured over the past hours.

The main aim of regime forces is to reach the rebel-held Abu Zuhour airbase and secure the road linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo.

Rebels captured Abu Zuhour in 2015 after a three-year siege.

The military offensive in southern areas of the Idlib province comes amid intense airstrikes and shelling that have killed more than 21 civilians - including eight children and 11 members of the same family

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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