Syrian State Media: Turkey Helped Rebel Counterattack in Idlib

Syrian army offensive in Idlib worries France, wants Astana deal respected

The Hezbollah media unit said the army and its allies were repelling a "fierce assault" by the Nusra Front, formerly al Qaeda's affiliate in the Syrian war, and factions linked to it.

Turkey has been a major backer of Syrian rebels, but has recently been working with Damascus's allies Iran and Russian Federation in meetings with the stated aim of reducing violence.

The goal of the jihadists was to cut off regime forces at the airport from their rear bases and "relieve the pressure" on them at the airbase, said the Observatory.

Almost 100,000 people have been displaced since early December by fighting in northwestern Syria, where the regime is waging an offensive against jihadis, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

"Due to the large numbers of people moving, many are left with no shelter, which could expose them to various risks, especially as the winter temperatures continue to drop", it said in a statement.

"We couldn't think properly".

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At least 11 civilians were killed in heavy Syrian regime air raids on Idlib province on Friday night, where fighting on the ground has raged for over a week.

On his first visit to Syria, UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock met with Syrian authorities and travelled to the central city of Homs on Wednesday to see the impact of the conflict on civilians for himself.

It falls within a network of de-escalation zones - endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran - in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Turkey on Tuesday summoned the Russian and Iranian ambassadors to Ankara in order to convey its "uneasiness" about their actions in Idlib.

"The operation is to hit the belly of the regime deep into liberated territories and to encircle their advancing forces", said Abdul Hakim al Rahamon, a senior official in Jaish al Nasr, an FSA faction taking part. Millions have been displaced.

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