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Syrian army forces push further into southern Idlib, liberate three villages

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture, provided by Syria’s official news agency SANA on February 17, 2020, shows Syrian government forces deployed in an area of the road linking the northwestern city of Aleppo to A'zaz city.

Syrian government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, have made further progress in the southern countryside area of the country’s embattled northwestern province of Idlib, liberating more villages from the clutches of foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Syrian soldiers and their allies took complete control of the villages of Ma’ar Tamater and Ma’artasin on Tuesday following fierce clashes with members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, Takfiri terrorist group and their affiliates.

The report added that the clashes incurred heavy losses on the terrorists in terms of military equipment and personnel.

Syrian army units are now hunting down the remnants of terrorists, who have fled the villages towards Kafr Nabl town – a major militant stronghold in the southern part of Idlib.

Later in the day, Syrian soldiers and allied fighters from popular defense groups recaptured the village of Baarbu, and started an operation to capture remnants of terror outfits in neighboring areas.

Later in the evening, Syrian government forces could establish full control over Kafr Nabl town.

The development dealt a heavy blow to foreign-backed Takfiri militants as the town served as a stronghold for the extremists in Idlib region.

Syrian forces shoots down Turkish drone in Idlib 

Moreover, Syrian air defense forces intercepted and targeted a US-made unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to Turkish military forces in the skies over the southeastern countryside of Idlib.

This picture taken on February 25, 2020 shows the wreckage of an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the Turkish military after it was intercepted and targeted by Syrian forces in the skies over Dadikh village, northwestern province of Idlib. (Photo by SANA)

SANA reported that Syrian forces struck the drone as it was on reconnaissance mission and collecting information for Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists over Dadikh village.

On Monday, Syrian troopers and their allies managed to wrest full control over Tal Nar region, the villages of Sheikh Mustafa, al-Naqeer and Arinbeh as well as Kafrsajna town in Idlib’s southern countryside.

Syrian government forces had pounded the positions of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists in a number of areas in the southern countryside of the northwestern city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man, located 33 kilometers south of Idlib, a day earlier.

Lavrov rejects Idlib ceasefire as “capitulating before terrorists”

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed some calls for a halt to Syrian government forces’ campaign to wipe out militant groups in Idlib region.

“This is capitulating before terrorists and even a reward for their activities in violation of international treaties and numerous UN Security Council resolutions,” Lavrov told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivers a speech at the UN Human Rights Council's main annual session on February 25, 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo by AFP)

Lavrov slammed some governments for having “a desire to justify outrageous acts committed by radical and terrorist groupings."

“Otherwise, it would be difficult to explain admonishments about the possibility of concluding peace agreements with bandits,” the top Russian diplomat said.

Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement on Tuesday it was “deeply alarmed” by the situation for civilians fleeing the fighting.

“This is the worst wave of displacement we’ve seen during the Syrian conflict. Amid the harsh winter conditions in Idlib, we see people trapped, isolated and running out of ways to cope. It’s completely unacceptable,” the ICRC’s director for the Near and Middle East, Fabrizio Carboni, said.

Carboni then called for all sides in the current Idlib fighting to “immediately” allow civilians to move to a safe area.

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