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Forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad are struggling to seize the last remaining rebel stronghold in northwestern Syria held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters and al-Qaeda-linked jihadis who have joined forces against the regime, Reuters reported Wednesday.
“I expect the battles to continue for a time because it has become a bone-breaking battle,” Col. Mustafa Bakour, a commander in the Jaish al-Izza rebel group, told Reuters, noting that coordination among the opposition forces, including the jihadis, is a significant factor in thwarting the attacks by the Assad forces.
Help - Iran - Russia - Assad - Syria
With the help of Iran and Russia, Assad has been able to re-conquer most of Syria except swathes of the territory in the north, held by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces and to a much lesser extent al-Qaeda-linked jihadis and Turkish-backed rebels.
The al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria capitalized on the near single-minded focus of the international efforts against their rival the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and they now control more territory than any other terrorist group in and around Idlib province where they have established an Islamic emirate.
Wednesday - Reuters
On Wednesday, Reuters reported:
President Bashar al-Assad’s assault in the northwest has been met with a painful rebel counterpunch that underlines Turkish resolve to keep the area out of his hands and shows why he will struggle to take back more of Syria by force.
Months - Operations - Idlib - Province - Nothing
More than two months of Russian-backed operations in and around Idlib province have yielded little or nothing for Assad’s side. It marks a rare case of a military campaign that has not gone his way since Russia intervened in 2015.
The Idlib area is dominated by Tahrir al-Sham, the [al-Qaeda-linked] jihadists formerly known as the Nusra Front. Proscribed as a terrorist group by the U.N. Security Council, the group has set aside past conflict with Turkish-backed rebels to defend the northwest.
Rebel - Source - Reuters - Turkey
Citing an unnamed rebel source, Reuters noted that Turkey...
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