A Syrian commercial flight landed at Aleppo airport on Wednesday from Damascus, marking the resumption of internal flights between Syria’s two largest cities for the first time since 2012. The flight carrying Syrian officials and journalists was a symbolic message from President Bashar Assad’s government, days after its forces consolidated control over the northwestern province of Aleppo and seized the last segments of the strategic M5 highway linking Aleppo to Damascus. The motorway between Syria’s two biggest cities was being repaired and was scheduled to reopen in coming days, for the first time in eight years.Trends For You 🔥 Turkish-Backed Syrian Rebels Attacked Government-Held Positions Near Aleppo This Marks Major Gain For President Bashar al-Assad Rouhani: ‘Our Enemy the United States is Very Well Aware Their Pressure is Inefficient’ Backed by heavy Russian air strikes, government forces have been on the offensive for weeks to recapture the Aleppo countryside and parts of neighboring Idlib province in northwestern Syria, the last rebel-held areas in the country. The advances have sent hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians fleeing towards the border with Turkey in one of the biggest single displacements of the war, now in its eighth year. Escaping the bombs, many of them left with their belongings piled up on vehicles and are now staying in tents, in open fields and under trees in freezing temperatures near the Turkish border. The U.N. has put the number of those displaced since Dec. 1 at more than 900,000 civilians — more than half
Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million refugees from Syria, fears a fresh wave of migrants from Idlib. It has 12 military observation posts around Idlib, set up under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran, and several of them have since been surrounded by advancing Syrian government forces.
“When the Iranian people are upset with their government for blatantly lying about shooting down a plane, he should have taken the high road and send his condolences to the families. By seeming to make it about him, he de-legitimizes the protesters and allows the government to portray the protests as a U.S. plot.” said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies.