The Russian-backed Syrian regime said on Saturday it has captured the key crossroads city of Saraqib in the Idlib region, after a weeks-long offensive against the country’s last opposition bastion.
“Army units now exercise full control over the town of Saraqib,” state television reported, over footage of the town’s streets deserted after weeks of bombardment.
Saraqib 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.
The battle for Saraqib city and its surrounding highways 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 Idlib region is home to around three million people, half of whom were evacuated by regime forces from other parts of the country after they besieged cities controlled by the opposition and bombarded them with airstrikes.
The Syrian war, which started with the regime’s deadly oppression of anti-government protests, has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced more than half the country’s population.