Feb 17, 2020 07:45 UTC
  • Syria recaptures most of Aleppo ahead of Russo-Turkish talks

Backed by Russian air power, the Syrian army has made unprecedented advances in the Northwestern Aleppo Province, which borders Turkey, as Ankara is about to take up its grievances about Damascus’ breakthroughs with Moscow.

On Sunday, Reuters reported that the Syrian military had brought back most of the province under sovereign control. It said Russian aircraft had targeted terrorist positions there in advance to facilitate government movement on the ground.

The agency referred to the towns of Anadan and Haritan as some of the places liberated in the joint counterterrorism push.

“There is very rapid advance by the [Syrian] government in this area,” a London-based war monitor said.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) also said Syrian soldiers had established full control over all areas surrounding Aleppo’s provincial capital of the same name for the first time since 2012. The conquests drove away members of the notorious Takfiri terrorist group of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front or al-Qaeda’s Syria offshoot.

In all, the army liberated 23 villages to the west and north of Aleppo, from where terrorists shelled Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city.

Aleppo’s residents took to the streets afterwards in celebration, waving the national flag and honking the horns of their cars.

Prior to the headway, the Syrian military had liberated the M5 Highway between Aleppo and Damascus, the fastest route linking the two cities.

The gains have coincided with similar advances in the neighboring province of Idlib. The province hosts the largest remaining concentration of militants and Takfiri terrorists in the Arab country since foreign-backed militancy began in Syria in 2011.

Turkey, however, has been uneasy with Syria’s progress in Idlib, claiming that the Syrian offensive there killed 13 of its troops this month. It has threatened to attack the Syrian military unless government forces abandoned the liberated areas, and asked Moscow to “stop” Damascus. Ankara has also made unverified claims that it has killed dozens of Syrian soldiers in one alleged retaliatory strike.