Syrian Forces Eye Rebel-Held Province after Defeat of ISIS

(AP-VOA News) Syrian government forces and allied militiamen are advancing on Idlib province, the largest remaining rebel-held territory in the country's north, forcing thousands of civilians to flee toward the border with Turkey. Last week, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the main military operations against ISIS in Syria have ended and that the focus would shift to al-Qaeda-linked militants. An opposition activist in northern Syria said the rebels are stuck in a two-front battle with government forces and remaining pockets of Islamic State militants, and that Russian airstrikes have exacted a heavy toll. Idlib province is dominated by the Levant Liberation Committee, which claims to have severed ties with al-Qaeda but is widely believed to still be affiliated with it. Recapturing the entire province is expected to be a long and bloody process against highly experienced and well-armed insurgents. Rami Abdurrahman, chief of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said, "The regime wants to take the eastern part of Idlib province. Their aim is to remove any threat to the road" between Damascus and Aleppo.

2018-01-08 00:00:00

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