Assad's forces push Syrian rebels out of stronghold despite Turkey's threat


The fighting has caused problems between Turkey and Russian Federation, whose governments support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict.

The fleeing civilians, including around half a million children, have been camping in the open in freezing conditions as they are trapped between the closed Turkish border and the advancing Syrian regime troops.

The images from Colorado-based Maxar Technologies show an enormous number of refugee tents and shelters for internally displaced people near Kafaldin and Deir Hassan in Idlib province. Maxar Technologies photographed Sarmada, Deir Hassan and Ad Dana in February 2019 and again this week.

The Syrian army had also opened the worldwide roadway from northern Aleppo to the towns of Zahraa and Nubl towards the Turkish border, a military news service run by Lebanon's Assad-allied pro-Damascus Hezbollah group said.

Hammoud on Monday announced re-opening the airport.

He congratulated his forces Monday for consolidating control over the entire province of Aleppo in northern Syria, pledging to press ahead with a military campaign to achieve complete victory "sooner or later".

Rebel military sources said opposition fighters had pulled back from the area, including Anadan and the town of Haritan.

On Friday, they pushed west of the M5 motorway which connects Syria's four largest cities and is economically vital for the government, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The sheer number of Russian and Syrian aerial and artillery attacks on displacement camps, hospitals and schools "suggest they can not all be accidental", United Nations human rights spokesperson Rupert Colville said.

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Turkey reportedly asked the United States to deploy Patriot missile batteries to defend its troops from Syrian regime airstrikes as two more Turkish soldiers were killed in escalating violence between the two sides.

Only hours earlier, Turkey refused a plan outlined by Russian Federation that included a map with a proposed relocation of Turkish troops in Syria's opposition-controlled Idlib province. It wasn't immediately clear if Turkish troops took part in the attack. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, "We see the reason for the current deterioration is due to Turkey's chronic noncommitment under the Sochi memorandum of September 17, 2018, and the transfer of Turkey-controlled groups to northeastern Syria". "We have not reached the desired results as yet", Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.

Last week, top US Syria envoy James Jeffrey visited Ankara, calling for closer collaboration with Turkey not only in Syria but also in Libya, especially against Russia, "We are both very concerned about the role of Russia in Libya and in Syria, in general, and in the Idlib offensive". "We could enter (Idlib) suddenly one night".

Ankara and Moscow have held talks to stop the escalation in Idlib but have yet to reach find a solution. "The talks will continue, but it is true that we are far from meeting our demands at the table", he said.

The recent conflict was sparked when Syrian Government forces, backed by Russian forces and Iranian-backed militias, began retaking former opposition areas from Syrian rebel fighters.

"We came out with the clothes on our backs", she said. Ultimately, the question is whether Turkey can actually seek a military confrontation with the Syrian army and its Russian allies.

Bachelet urgently called on all parties to the Syrian conflict, including state and non-state actors, to immediately cease hostilities and ensure the protection of all civilians.

Wissam Hazim, southern hub staff safety officer for the charity, and driver Adel Al-Halabi were killed when their vehicle was attacked by an armed group, Oxfam said. "Basic infrastructure is falling apart", he said in a statement.

Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said Turkey was determined to make Idlib a secure zone "no matter the cost", even as talks continue with Russian Federation.