Syrian rebels now almost driven out of last stronghold Idlib

After a few days offensive, the Syrian army has a firm hold on the south of the province of Idlib. Government forces have captured some sixty cities and towns from the insurgents.

The rebels in turn, with the support of Turkish troops, have recaptured the strategically located city of Saraqeb from the army, as reported by several hard-to-control sources.

The city of Saraqeb is situated on a junction of two motorways. One of them connects the two most important cities: Damascus and Aleppo in the north. The other road runs from the east of Syria to the west coast on the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkey is trying with all its might to thwart the Syrian advance in the province of Idlib. Damascus, however, is assured of the support of Russia. The advance of the Syrian army in the nearby province of Idlib continues unabated. It threatens to become a bloodbath of the first order. According to the UN, fierce fighting has led to the displacement of nearly one million people in the region. According to local reports, Syrian troops have advanced further south of the city of Idlib, under cover of Russian air strikes.

Idlib is practically the last stretch of Syrian territory that is not (yet) in the hands of the government army of Syrian President Assad. If his troops succeed in driving away the rebels from Idlib, the revolt against President Assad, which started in 2014, has virtually failed, and has failed. For a long time it seemed that several armed Syrian groups could overthrow the president's regime. But after Russia provided military support to Assad, the rebels lost control.

In the meantime, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reports that the Turkish army has set up four new military posts in the areas Ehsim, Kansafrah, Kansafrah and Al-Bara in the southern Idlib countryside, amid a continuous advance of the forces of the regime in the region. In addition, a Turkish military convoy consisting of more than 100 vehicles entered the Syrian territory last night en route to the Jabal al-Zawiya area.

In the meantime, Russia and Turkey are preparing discussions on how to de-escalate fighting in Idlib province in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

"Another set of consultations that we hope will lead us to an agreement on how we can ensure that this is indeed a de-escalation zone and that terrorists do not operate there is now being prepared," Lavrov said at a joint press conference Monday .