Jihadists counter-attack in fight for Syrian airbase

Fighters from a coalition of Islamist forces stand on a portrait of Syrian President Bashar al Assad in Idlib

In Eastern Ghouta, a regime advance to capture a military and industrial area close to the capital Damascus has seen heavy fighting around the Harasta district.

Further complicating the Thursday counterattack by rebels in the Idlib Province, the Syrian state media outlet SANA is quoting Syrian commanders who say that the Turkish government participated in the rebel push.

Three children were killed along with four other civilians in the village of Khan al-Sible in southern Idlib on Friday night, as Russian Federation and the regime intensify airstrikes on the rebel-held province.

"We are witnessing a clear intensification of Russia's military strategy, with systematic attacks on civilian facilities perpetrated with total disregard for global law", warns Fadel Abdul Ghany, Chairperson of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

Idlib province is nearly entirely controlled by a jihadi outfit known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) consisting mostly of fighters from a former al-Qaida affiliate.




Syrian troops and allied forces absorbed the attack and regained control of some positions they had withdrawn from, it said.

"The operation is to hit the belly of the regime deep into liberated territories and to encircle their advancing forces", said Abdul Hakim al Rahamon, a senior official in Jaish al Nasr, an FSA faction taking part.

The Syrian army, supported by Iran-backed militias and Russian air power, began an offensive in late October in Hama province.

Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance led by the Nusra Front, the dominant force in Idlib, said it had already made gains. "We have killed many". They have recaptured dozens of villages.

In their counter-offensive Thursday, the rebels captured the towns of Khwein, Atshan Abu Omar, and Um Khalakhel from the Syrian army.

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