Erdogan calls on Putin to end northern Syria attacks by regime forces

Image used for representational purpose only

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said on Wednesday that Syrian troops are fighting militants, including members of al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee, in different areas near Abu Zuhour.

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.

Syrian state media, citing a foreign ministry source, said on Thursday that regime forces were fighting to "liberate from the terrorism of the Nusra Front and the other terrorist organisations that belong to it". By the end of last week, they had advanced into Idlib, close to an insurgent-held military airport.

The activists said the warplane belonged to the Syrian army.

But on Thursday, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its Islamist allies led a counter-attack, retaking several villages from the regime, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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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.

Now, an intense military showdown is taking place in the countryside of Idlib and Hama, a military source told Xinhua, adding that it is hard for the rebels to capture over 120 towns taken by the army in both Hama and Idlib since the Syrian army unleashed their attack in both countrysides two weeks ago.

"Residential areas are being hit day and night by strikes from the ground and from the air, forcing civilians to hide in basements", he said in a statement.

The ministry concluded by saying that France, whose people have suffered from the terrorism, should have its diplomats take clear stances regarding terrorism.

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