The Syrian army on Thursday repulsed a massive attack by pro-Turkish militants in the Neurab village area of Idlib province, with fierce aerial and artillery support, Sham FM radio station reported.
“The Syrian army reflects an attempt by armed groups supported by the army of Turkish occupiers in the Neyrab district, west of Saraqib city in Idlib province. Fierce fighting is taking place, with artillery and air strikes on militant positions”, – a radio correspondent reported.
The militants have tried unsuccessfully to advance in the Neurab area, he said, and the SAR army has managed to destroy several pieces of military equipment and eliminate several militants.
The radio station said the militants have failed to seize new settlements.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that the Syrian army will continue to liberate Aleppo and Idlib provinces despite Turkey’s reaction.
On 9 February, the Syrian General Staff of the Syrian Armed Forces announced the liberation of more than 600 square kilometres in Aleppo and Idlib governorates from terrorists in the course of military operations, while troops advancing from the east of Idlib province met with troops advancing from the south of Aleppo province. The military liberated the key towns of Saraqib at the crossroads of the international M4 (Latakia-Aleppo) and M5 (Damascus-Aleppo) highways and the major city of Ma’aret Nu’man. The Syrian army also took control of the entire Damascus-Aleppo (M5) highway, with the exception of a small section near the town of Ma’aret Nouuman blocked by the Turkish military. On Sunday, it took full control of all the settlements around Aleppo for the first time since 2012, thus protecting it from regular artillery fire by militants.
Earlier, Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey has not yet received a satisfactory result in negotiations with Russia on Syrian Idlib and is ready to start a military operation in the region. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov called this the worst-case scenario.
Erdogan said earlier that he called on his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the Syrian army offensive in the province of Idlib and withdraw from the Turkish observation points by the end of February, threatening otherwise with a military response.
According to the agreement reached at the May 2017 talks in Astana (now Nur-Sultan) by representatives of Russia, Iran and Turkey, four de-escalation zones were established in Syria. The territory of three of these zones was taken over by Damascus in 2018. The fourth zone, located in the province of Idlib and parts of the neighbouring provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, remains outside the government’s control. However, most of it was captured by terrorists from the Jabhat al-Nusra group. In September 2018, Russia and Turkey agreed in Sochi to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, where more than a dozen different formations are located.