Syria says troops enter strategic Saraqib town in Idlib amid fierce clashes
Syria said its troops have entered the strategic city of Saraqib in the opposition-held Idlib province and has begun to "comb" its neighborhoods, according to state media, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the regime regained control of the southern, western and eastern neighborhoods of the city.
The development on the ground would be the latest gain in a major Russian-led campaign that began in December in northwestern Idlib province to recapture the last opposition stronghold.
The battle for Saraqib city and its surrounding highways has already triggered an exodus of civilians, and is key to the fate of the Syrian opposition as it clings onto its remaining territory in northwest Syria. The battle for the city also raises the prospect of a face-off between Turkey and Russia, who support opposing sides in the conflict.
Saraqib is a city in the southeast of the Idlib region covering an area of 170 square kilometers. Its residents revolted against the Syrian regime and the city changed hands many times between the Syrian regime, the opposition Free Syrian Army and other opposition factions and extremist groups.
It is strategically important because it is the intersection between two major highways connecting Aleppo with Latakia, known as the M4, and Aleppo with Hama, Homs, and Damascus which is known as the M5.
Al Arabiya English’s Leen Alfaisal contributed to this report.