Syrian Rebels Launch Counter-Attack in Idlib Province

A wounded Syrian girl receives treatment at a makeshift hospital following reported air strikes on the rebel-held besieged town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta  AFP

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Idlib's few rebel groups and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham have set aside their differences to fight President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Militant factions justified their withdrawal decision by saying that a mass encirclement of rebel fighters in southwest Aleppo due to Syrian Army advances in eastern Idlib was highly possible and this made it strategically unfeasible or militarily wasteful to defend the Al-Hass region.

The remark comes in the wake of Turkey's decision to summon Russian and Iranian envoys to the country, seeking to cease the Syrian government's violation of de-escalation zone borders in Idlib, claimed by Ankara, reported Sputnik.

The counter-offensive is likely to slow advances on the ground in the interim, though they usually lead to escalations in airstrikes against both the rebel forces, and rebel-held towns in the vicinity of the fighting.

Its forces are now close to the military air base of Abu Duhur, their next target, the war monitor said.

In a statement, the ministry expressed astonishment over the "French Foreign Ministry's persistence in carrying out the misleading campaign of the French public opinion toward what is happening in Syria and using the humanitarian side as a pretext to do so".

Director of the Extremism and Counterterrorism Programme at the Middle East Institute, Charles Lister tweeted yesterday that major factions including Ahrar Al-Shaam, Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki and the Free Idlib Army were recipients of the weapons, but not the largest opposition conglomerate and former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayaat Tahrir Al-Shaam.

The Observatory said Thursday that 96 civilians have been killed since the military campaign on Idlib and Hama countrysides started on Dec.25.

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