In Idlib, northwestern Syria, moderate Turkish-backed opposition groups have launched an operation to take back two locations from Assad regime forces, said local sources on Thursday.
According to the sources, the moderate opposition groups entered the village of al-Nayrab and the city of Saraqib and began fierce clashes.
The moderate opposition troops first hit regime targets in Saraqib with artillery fire and then started to advance into the village.
They destroyed a tank and an armored personnel carrier belonging to the Assad regime and also seized a second tank.
Assad regime forces had entered al-Nayrab on Feb. 3.
Located in southeastern Idlib, Saraqib is known as the “gateway” to the province.
The city was an opposition stronghold, and it occupies a strategic location on the junction between the M5 highway which links Damascus to Aleppo and the M4 highway which connects Aleppo to Latakia.
Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN figures.
Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018. The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.
Some 1 million Idlib refugees have moved towards the nearby Turkish border in recent months, fleeing attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, and producing a desperate humanitarian situation.
Turkey has called for an immediate halt to the attacks on Idlib, and for the cease-fire to be followed, warning that if the attacks do not stop Turkey will act.