Syrian army captures strategic city in Idlib

2020-01-30 05:30:03 GMT2020-01-30 13:30:03(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

DAMASCUS, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Following days of an intense military operation, the Syrian army captured Maarat al-Numan, the second largest city in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria, the Syrian army said Wednesday.

In a statement, the Syrian army announced the capture of the strategic city of Maarat al-Numan and 28 villages and towns from the rebels in the southern countryside of Idlib over the past days.

The Syrian army will continue to fight "terror groups" until liberating all the Syrian areas, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the Syrian forces carried out over 6,000 airstrikes and ground shelling on Maarat al-Numan and its surrounding areas over the past four days.

A total of 75,000 civilians have fled their homes from the same area over the past few days as a result of the military showdown there, according to the Britain-based monitor.

Capturing Maarat al-Numan is a key step toward securing the Hama-Aleppo road from the rebels as part of an agreement reached in the Russian city of Sochi in 2018, as the road extends all the way south to the Syrian capital Damascus.

Since the Hama-Aleppo road is under rebels' control, people have travelled to Aleppo through another extension of the road.

The army is now considering the recapture of the entire road between Hama and Aleppo as a top priority, in order to restore the travel route from Damascus to Aleppo to the pre-war time without a detour.