The Syrian army has captured two towns near the terrorists’ stronghold of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib, reaching the edges of a major bastion of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants. In their large-scale advance on Thursday night, the troops captured the small town of Madaya and immediately secured it in order to prevent the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists from reentering it. The next target after Madaya was the hilltop town of Tal al-Arjahi, which was briefly contested, but later ended with terrorists fully retreating back toward Khan Shaykhun. The Syrian army has now put its troops at the northwestern flank of Khan Shaykhun, marking the farthest advance north that the army has made in the Idlib Governorate. The government troops are working to surround Khan Shaykhun from its western and eastern axes, but the progress of the battle in the east is slow in comparison to the west. Last Sunday, Syrian fighter jets carried out a string of airstrikes against the positions of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in the southern part of Idlib, pounding militant bases in the towns of Khan Shaykhun, al-Tamanah, Hass, Madaya, Kafrsajna, Rakaya Sijneh, and Hazarin as well as Hish. By Thursday, the ground forces had gained control of five villages to the northwest of Khan Shaykhun. As the advances continued, Syrian air defense intercepted and destroyed a missile coming from northern Lebanon over the western-central governorate of Hama, state media said. Quoting an unnamed military source, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that the “hostile” missile was shot
In a rare public acknowledgement of Israeli operations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he personally ordered the recent airstrikes against Syrian military positions. The Israeli premier made the provocative remarks on Sunday shortly after new air raids struck Syrian military positions in the southern region of Quneitra near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing three soldiers and wounding seven others. Israel claims it was responding to two rockets allegedly launched from Syria late Saturday, which caused no casualties. “We will not tolerate firing into our territory and will respond fiercely against any aggression against us,” Benjamin Netanyahu said. Hours after the Quneitra airstrikes, Israel launched missile attacks against the T-4 airbase near the western Syrian city of Homs, killing an army soldier and wounding two others. The Syrian air defense reportedly managed to successfully intercept a number of the missiles. The Israeli prime minister further threatened strikes against positions of Iranian military advisers in Syria, claiming that “anyone who tries to hurt us will be hurt far worse.” The Israeli air force has staged repeated air raids against Syrian military bases that it claims are used by Iranian military advisers. Iranian advisers are in Syria on the request of the country’s legitimate government to help the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed militants. Syria’s official SANA news agency said the recent Israeli airstrikes are an attempt to prop up terrorist groups based in western provinces of Hama and Idlib that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces. “The
Russian and Syrian forces intensified air strikes and shelling in rebel-held northwestern Syria overnight, the heaviest assault since the area was declared a demilitarized zone under a Russian-Turkish deal, residents and medics said on Thursday. The targeted villages and towns in northern Hama and southern Idlib fall within a buffer zone agreed last September between Russia and Turkey as part of a deal which averted a major offensive on the area.
Schools, health facilities and residential areas have been hit, United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis told Reuters on Thursday. “The barrel bombing is the worst we have seen for at least 15 months.”
He added that 300,000 people live in the buffer zone where there are hostilities. Earlier this week, the United States warned violence in the buffer zone “will result in the destabilisation of the region”.
Syria’s army Friday warned residents of the country’s last major rebel bastion to stay away from jihadists, who have yet to withdraw from a buffer zone ahead of a looming deadline.
“Get away from the fighters. Their fate is sealed and near,. Don’t allow the terrorists to take you as human shields.”