Syrian government forces have made significant advances in their military push against the last major rebel bastion in the country’s northwest, according to state media, in a ferocious offensive that has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
State television said on Sunday that the Russian-backed forces “have liberated all the villages and small towns west of Aleppo city”.
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Backed by Russian air raids, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops have kept up the assault on the Idlib region and parts of neighbouring Aleppo and Latakia provinces since December.
The offensive has disrupted a fragile cooperation between Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict but have collaborated towards what they say is a political solution to the nearly nine-year war.
Turkey, which supports several Syrian rebel groups in the northwest, has been outraged since Syrian attacks in Idlib province killed 13 Turkish troops in two weeks. It has called on Russia to stop the attacks, warning it would use military power to drive back Syrian forces unless they withdraw by the end of the month.