Syria presses with attack on terrorists in southern Idlib

Syrian military forces are continuing to target terrorist hideouts in northwestern Syria where the government has been restraining its offensives based on a de-escalation agreement signed and monitored by international powers.

The state-run SANA news agency said military forces had managed to destroy the hideouts of terrorists in southern countryside of the Idlib province and in areas bordering the province in the neighboring Hama.

It said the hideouts mostly belonged to the Nusra Front, a terrorist organization which is not included in a de-escalation agreement signed between Russia, Syria’s main ally, and Turkey, which backs some groups of militants in the region in its alleged bid to contain a Kurdish militancy that could spread to its own territories.

Reports said two Turkish troops had been wounded in a shelling attack which Ankara authorities said had come from territories held by the Syrian government. The two soldiers were moved to Turkey for treatment of their light injuries, they said.

The Syrian military attacks mostly targeted terrorists’ hideouts in Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib and rural northern Hama. Reports by opposition forces say between 30 and 60 people have been killed in five days of military attack in the region.

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The new wave of attacks comes as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly vowed to retake every inch of the territory once controlled by militants and terrorist groups.

Many of the terrorists holding out in Idlib are militants who once fought in other areas in Syria and were transferred to the northwestern province as part of deals with the government to hand over the occupied territories and disarm.

The attacks also come amid claims by Russia that a de-escalation agreement signed with Turkey and meant to reduce violence in Idlib has not been implemented.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week that his country could help the Syrian army in launching a full-scale military assault on militants in Idlib. He said, however, that time was not ripe for such an all-out attack.

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