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Syrian forces on the verge of taking control of the international road Aleppo-Damascus

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Regime forces are on the verge of taking control of the international road, Aleppo-Damascus, and they have only two kilometers to recover, following new progress in the northwest of the country, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday.

In December, regime forces, with Russian support, began a massive offensive in areas in and around Idlib controlled by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) and other less influential opposition factions.

The attack focused on the southern and southeastern countryside of Idlib and the neighboring southwestern countryside of Aleppo, where the international road “M5”, which links the city of Aleppo with the capital, Damascus, crosses several major cities from Hama and Homs to the southern border with Jordan.

“The forces of the regime made new progress on Sunday and took control of a number of villages near the road” in the southwestern countryside of Aleppo, noting that “only two kilometers separate them from its full recovery.” The road reaches the city of Aleppo from the western side.

The recovery of this road, known as the “M5”, is the most prominent target for Damascus today, and it has gradually controlled most of it during military attacks over the past years.

Since the beginning of the attack, the regime forces have taken control of dozens of cities and towns in the Idlib and Aleppo countryside, most notably the cities of Ma`rat al-Numan and Saraqib, where the international route passes in the southeastern Idlib countryside.

Two days ago, the regime forces recovered the entire section of the road that passes from Idlib governorate, and since then their operations have focused on the southwestern countryside of Aleppo, according to the observatory.

After the regime forces regained the entire city of Aleppo in 2016, the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham and other factions maintained their control over a wide area that stretched from the outskirts of the western city to large areas in its western and southwestern countryside.

The Idlib governorate and its environs are covered by a Russian-Turkish agreement dating back to 2018 stipulating the establishment of a demilitarized zone separating the positions of the regime forces and the factions, and the opening of two international routes, between the Aleppo-Damascus road.

However, the agreement was not implemented because no withdrawals by the Headquarters for the Liberation of Al-Sham were carried out, while Damascus resumed its attacks in stages.

According to the United Nations, the military escalation has pushed the beginning of December of 586,000 people to move from the escalation areas in Idlib and Aleppo to safer areas.

The attack also killed more than 300 civilians, according to the toll of the observatory.

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