Syrian forces make fresh advance in Idlib

Syrian forces make fresh advance in Idlib”

Holdout rebels and jihadists can only exit from the north, with regime forces deployed on all other sides, according to the war monitor group.

Regime shelling of Turkish positions in Idlib killed at least five Turkish soldiers and three civilians, Ankara said.

"We hope that the process of the regime pulling back behind our observation posts is completed in the month of February", he told members of his Justice and Development (AK) Party. The government forces retook a strategic pass and a village and conducted mine clearing of liberated settlements.

Fighting has escalated in Syria's Idlib recently, as the Syrian government has been struggling to recapture control over the area, which remains a major terrorist stronghold in the country. The incident triggered a retaliatory bombardment of Syrian Army positions.

Saraqib has three Turkish observation posts.

Monday's clashes - the bloodiest since Ankara sent troops across the border to Syria in 2016 - prompted Erdogan to ask Moscow, the key backer of Assad's regime, to "better understand our sensitivities in Syria".

Syria's military command, for its part, has said the presence of Turkish forces was "illegal and a flagrant act of aggression", vowing to respond to any Turkish attack, SANA reported.

The escalation raised concerns over future collaboration between Ankara and Moscow, which have backed opposing sides in the war despite joint efforts to ease the violence.Erdogan said two of Turkey's 12 observation posts, set up around a "de-escalation zone" in northwest Syria's Idlib region as part of a 2017 agreement with Russian Federation and Iran, were now behind Syrian government front lines."We hope that the process of the regime pulling back behind our observation posts is completed in the month of February", he told members of his AK Party.

Erdogan has criticised Russian Federation, a key backer of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, for failing to enforce peace agreements in the region and called for Moscow to "better understand our sensitivities in Syria".

"The air and ground elements of the Turkish armed forces will freely move in the Idlib region and if needed will launch an operation", he said.

Fighting in Idlib has continued in recent years despite several ceasefire efforts, including as recently as last month, and renewed bombardments by Russia-backed government forces have displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Erdogan on Wednesday urged Damascus to back off those posts.

Their priority, she told AFP, was to ensure a "regional solution, designed by Moscow and Ankara, as opposed to an global solution parachuted in by the West".

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