The Syrian army has warned civilians to leave the country’s northwestern Idlib province as it prepares for a final military campaign to flush terrorists out of the region.
Leaflets were distributed from Syrian helicopters urging residents to leave the entire province in order to protect their lives, the Syrian al-Watan newspaper reported on Thursday.
The impending operation comes amid an escalation in clashes in the province after the Syrian army launched an offensive to counter numerous terrorist violations of an earlier de-escalation agreement.
Under the agreement, which was signed between Russia and Turkey last year, Takfiri groups had to withdraw from areas bordering government-controlled areas in the region.
Despite Turkey’s pledge to implement the deal, the Takfiri groups have never complied with the agreement and have periodically launched attacks against Syrian troops from the buffer zone.
Turkey steps up support for terrorists
Turkey has set up patrols and bases in the province on the pretext of monitoring the agreement.
However, sources speaking to the al-Watan newspaper said the observation bases have effectively turned into command-and-control centers for the terrorists, providing them with arms and information on Syrian military deployments.
The sources made specific references to Turkey’s monitoring base in Shir al-Maghar, saying it had actively helped terrorist groups regain control of the previously-liberated town of Kafr Nabuda south of Idlib on Wednesday.
The reports said Turkey had provided the terrorists with military and supply vehicles along with anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) which were widely used in the attack.
Syrian forces later published images of destroyed vehicles used by the terrorists, which appeared to be Turkish-made “Panthera F9” armored personnel carriers (APCs).
Syria has witnessed increased hostile drone attacks, notably targeting the strategic Hmeimim airbase in the northeastern Latakia province and various vital installations in the west-central Hama province.
Russia had previously warned that advanced technologies on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) acquired by terrorists required “professional knowledge and experience” in operating drones.
US, UK, France again raise chemical attack fears
With the Syrian campaign to liberate Idlib going into high gear, Paris expressed concern over a possible “humanitarian catastrophe”, warning against any Syrian operation.
Washington and London have also sought to intimated Damascus, threatening to “respond appropriately” if recent allegations of chemical weapons use are confirmed.
The threats came after mysterious reports of four members of the al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group having been admitted to hospital from “respiratory failure” emerged.
The US and its allies, which have greatly supported different terrorist groups in Syria, have periodically used dubious claims of government chemical attacks to pressure or even launch strikes against Damascus.
Syria has denied the allegations, while many reports have indicated terrorist control and use of the dangerous chemicals.