Turkey-backed Assad opposition seizes the town of Nairab with help from the Turkish military fully engaged in the battle against the Assad regime. Nairab is located in northwest Syria in the the Idlib province. It is the first area the Assad opposition has regained back from the Syrian government and Russian forces advancing in the province.
Assad forces, supported by Russian air power, are trying to retake the last large rebel-held region in Syria after nine years of war. The Assad regime, with help from Russia and Iran, has displaced nearly a million Syrians by the latest fighting.
TURKEY IS FULLY ENGAGED IN BATTLING ASSAD
Turkey has responded by sending thousands of troops and equipment into the region to support the rebels in resisting the offensive.
Yusef Hamoud, spokesman for the Turkey-backed National Army, told Reuters:
With the help of our Turkish friends, we have regained control of the strategic town of Nairab, the gateway of Saraqeb, after expelling the terrorist Russian militias.
A Turkish security official said that the Turkish military had supported the rebel offensive with shelling. Bomb disposal teams and the rebels are now clearing the town.
Their next goal was to capture the strategic town of Saraqeb, where Syria’s main north-south highway linking Damascus and Aleppo meets the road west to the Mediterranean.
The Turkish official told Reuters:
This will happen soon. The regime suffered heavy losses in the clashes last night. Also, a serious amount of weapons and ammunition was seized.
He said there had been no clash between Turkish and Russian forces in Monday’s advance on Nairab and that no Turkish soldiers had lost their lives in the clashes.
Since Turkey poured its forces into northwest Syria to halt the Assad forces’ campaign, 17 members of the Turkish forces have been killed.
STRAINED TIES BETWEEN TURKEY AND RUSSIA
The fighting has strained ties between Turkey and Russia, which although backing opposing sides in Syria’s conflict had worked to contain the violence until the latest flare-up.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said there was not yet full agreement on holding a proposed March 5 summit with Russia, France and Germany on the Idlib conflict, but he may meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin on that date.
Erdogan said that a Russian delegation is coming to come to Turkey on Wednesday to discuss the situation. He made the comment at a news conference in Ankara before leaving to Azerbaijan.
There is no full agreement yet between (French President Emmanuel) Macron…(German Chancellor Angela) Merkel, and Putin.
Macron and Merkel have both urged Putin to end the conflict. Both France and Germany are concerned about the humanitarian situation.
On Saturday, Erdogan said that Turkey had set out a “road map” for Syria after calls with the three leaders. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has said it was discussing the possibility of holding a four-way summit.
Turkey already hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot handle another wave. It has closed its borders.
Assad forces are advancing closer to the camps for displaced persons near the Turkish border. It is where the migrants fear the Assad regime might terrorize them once in its grasp.
The Assad forces often rape men, women, and children in an effort to submit them mentally and emotionally.