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Syrian rebels claim victory in key Idlib town

February 27, 2020

Syrian anti-regime fighters claim to have retaken the strategic Syrian town of Saraqeb. It's an important victory as Russian-backed Syrian regime troops advance into the last rebel enclave.

Idlib syria rebels hold gun cartridges
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/G. Alsayed

Anti-government insurgents claimed on Thursday they have re-taken the key Syrian town of Saraqeb from Russian-backed regime fighters.

Prime Minister Bashar al-Assad's soldiers captured the town only days ago. Russia-backed regime forces have been waging a campaign to retake the rebel stronghold of Idlib and end a civil war that has been raging in the country since 2011.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights — an opposition war monitoring group — reported the victory. The opposition Syrian National Army confirmed the report. Saraqeb was retaken with help from Turkish artillery, said the Observatory.

Shortly after, a Russian military source cited by Russian news agencies denied the town had been retaken, reported Reuters.

If claims are confirmed the rebels will have regained control of two important highways linking the northern city of Aleppo to the capital Damascus in the south of the country.

Civilians paying the price in the battle for Idlib

Assad's army making gains

Assad's troops made fresh gains on Wednesday in southern Idlib province capturing a number of towns, said the Observatory.

Since the government offensive began in December 2019 it has displaced almost 950,000 people and left hundreds of civilians dead. Schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure have been repeatedly hit during the latest campaign.

The German government and France have pushed for a talks to resolve the conflict. Russia said earlier this week it would never agree to a ceasefire with "terrorist" rebels.

kmm/rc (dpa, AP, Reuters)

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