Syrian military forces have regrouped in the suburbs of the northwestern city of Idlib a day after the city fell into the hands of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.
“Forces are repositioning on the outskirts of Idlib in order to face the terrorist battalions… and be in the best position to repel their attack,” a security source in the Syrian capital city of Damascus told AFP on Sunday.
The troops carried out a “successful operation regrouping south of the city,” Syria’s al-Watan newspaper reported.
“Army reinforcements were sent to start a military operation to regain control of the areas that were vacated after the evacuation of the local population to safe areas,” the daily quoted a source on the ground as saying.
On Saturday, a coalition of terrorist groups, which calls itself the Army of Conquest and includes the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and militant group Ahrar al-Sham as well as other smaller groups, seized control of the city following days of heavy clashes with government forces.
Earlier this month, Damascus said thousands of terrorists streamed in from Turkey to attack Idlib. At least 170 people have been killed on both sides since Tuesday.
Idlib has been the epicenter of deadly fighting between government troops and militants for months. It is located near the strategically significant main highway that links Damascus to the key northern city of Aleppo.
Idlib is Syria’s second provincial capital to fall into the hands of militants following the fall of the northern city of Raqqah in March 2013.
Syria has entered the fifth year of a foreign-sponsored conflict that has so far claimed the lives of more than 215,000 people.