Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Syrian soldiers and their allies took complete control of the villages of Ma’ar Tamater and Ma’artasin on Tuesday following fierce clashes with members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist group, formerly known as Al-Nusra Front and their affiliates.
The report added that the clashes incurred heavy losses on the terrorists in terms of military equipment and personnel, Press TV reported.
Syrian Army units on Tuesday were hunting down the remnants of terrorists, who have fled the villages towards Kafr Nabl town – a major terrorist stronghold in the southern part of Idlib.
Later in the day, Syrian soldiers and allied fighters from popular defense groups recaptured the village of Baarbu, and started an operation to capture remnants of terror outfits in neighboring areas.
On Monday, Syrian troopers and their allies managed to wrest full control over Tal Nar region, the villages of Sheikh Mustafa, Al-Naqeer and Arinbeh as well as Kafrsajna town in Idlib’s southern countryside.
Syrian government forces had pounded the positions of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists in a number of areas in the southern countryside of the northwestern city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man, located 33 kilometers south of Idlib, a day earlier.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has denied a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights about its air force strikes on two settlements in Idlib on Monday, TASS news agency reported, citing the ministry’s statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed some calls for a halt to Syrian government forces’ campaign to wipe out terrorist groups in Idlib region.
“This is capitulating before terrorists and even a reward for their activities in violation of international treaties and numerous UN Security Council resolutions,” Lavrov told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Lavrov slammed some governments for having “a desire to justify outrageous acts committed by radical and terrorist groupings."
“Otherwise, it would be difficult to explain admonishments about the possibility of concluding peace agreements with bandits,” the top Russian diplomat said.
Separately, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement on Tuesday it was “deeply alarmed” by the situation for civilians fleeing the fighting, Press TV reported.
“This is the worst wave of displacement we’ve seen during the Syrian conflict. Amid the harsh winter conditions in Idlib, we see people trapped, isolated and running out of ways to cope. It’s completely unacceptable,” the ICRC’s director for the Near and Middle East, Fabrizio Carboni, said.
Carboni then called for all sides in the current Idlib fighting to “immediately” allow civilians to move to a safe area.
Summit only with Iran, Turkey
The Kremlin also said on Tuesday it was working to organize a summit with Turkey and Iran to discuss the conflict in Idlib region, but was not organizing a separate mooted four-way summit that would gather France, Germany, Turkey, and Russia, Reuters reported.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier on Tuesday that there was not yet full agreement on holding a proposed March 5 summit with Russia, France and Germany, but that he might meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin on that date.
Asked about Erdogan’s comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were no discussions underway to hold a summit with France and Germany. Russia was only considering an Idlib summit with Iran and Turkey, he said.
Peskov said that there were currently no discussions about a possible meeting between Putin and Erdogan.