The Battle for Idlib saw a key militant stronghold fall yesterday, as Syrian Army forces stormed the Idlib town of Maarat al-Numan, pushing the HTS/Al-Nusra terrorist brigades into a retreat position, further north towards the Turkish border.
This important strategic advance will give Damascus addition leverage towards securing the all-important International Road which links Aleppo to Damascus, and also to free up addition resources push harder against militants encamped in the western Aleppo countryside.
“We need new heavy arms to deter Russia’s advanced weaponry,” he said. “We possess anti-armour missiles but they are old and undeveloped. They cannot counter modern Russian tanks,” said one HTS militant speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We are in a very desperate position and we need a miracle,” he added.
South Front reports…
On January 27 evening, units of the Syrian Army continued their operation in southeastern Idlib. Government troops liberated Hamidiya, Bseida, Maasaran, Tal Al-Shih, Maziyan and several other villages. By this advance, the army fully besieged Maarat al-Numan from the northern, southern and eastern directions.
According to pro-government sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants are not planning to defend the encircled city for a long time. They are actively planting mines and IEDs in the area. Therefore, even if militants withdraw from Maarat al-Numan via the remaining corridor, government troops will not be able to secure the city immediately.
On January 28, government sources claimed that the Syrian Army had already entered Maarat al-Numan. However, government forces still have to remove IEDs and fortify their new positions.
The Syrian Army offensive in southeastern Idlib is ongoing under the nose of the Turkish observation post near Maarat al-Hat. In the event of further advances by the army, the observation post will likely be encircled by Syrian forces. This will be the third Turkish observation post that faced this fate. The previous two are located near Surman and Morek.
Pro-opposition sources blame Turkey for the recent setbacks of al-Qaeda-linked groups. According to them, Ankara conspired with Moscow in order to undermine the so-called Syrian revolution. They also claim that the redeployment of members of Turkish-backed militant groups from Syria to Libya undermined the defense of Idlib. On January 26, the Libyan National Army, a rival of the pro-Turkish Libyan Government of National Accord, claims the number of Turkish-backed fighters that were prepared to be deployed to Libya was over 8,000. Earlier, reports appeared that at least 2,400 Turkish proxy fighters had been already sent to Libya.
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