Syrian government forces captured 14 villages on Monday as they move towards the largest rebel-Syrian Troops Capture 14 Villages from a rebel-held enclave in the country’s north. The northern region has experienced increased airstrikes orchestrated by the Syrian government and her allies since the late October in Hama and Idlib provinces. The area has been under the control of the insurgent groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee.
The main aim of the troops is to reach the rebel-held Abu Zuhour air base and secure the road linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest. Rebels captured Abu Zuhour in 2015 after a three-year siege. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said the newly captured villages, include Freija, Jahman, Dawoudiyeh and Jub al-Qasab, bring the troops closer to the air base.
The intensified airstrikes have increased seeing as the rebels have increased attacks with IEDs and car bombs against military and civilian positions. Idlib is the capital of a province by the same name that is controlled by insurgent factions, including an al-Qaida-linked group.