The Syrian Army has launched its long-awaited military operation to clear insurgent factions from the province of Idlib and surrounding territories.
Sources told Muraselon reporters that Syrian helicopters kicked-off the offensive this morning by targeting militant positions in Hama and Idlib provinces. The air attack was backed by shelling from Syrian Army rocket and howitzer units.
Russian airpower is also taking part in the attack alongside Syrian helicopters and artillery forces by bombing positions and movements of Nusra Front terrorists in the towns of Khan Sheikhun, Al-Latamanah, Ghernaz, Skik, Tel Skek and surrounding villages and hamlets.
Sources added to correspondents that the ground assault, when it does come, will take place on several axes at once. The immense air and artillery bombardment currently taking place is being done to soften up insurgent positions for infantry and armoured storming forces.
Syria’s permanent representative to the UN Security Council has confirmed Damascus’ willingness to secure safe passage for civilians in Idlib, if terrorist groups allow them to leave.
The military operation comes a day after the meeting of the Guarantor States in Tehran , where the final statement called on the militants to surrender their weapons and themselves – whilst Turkish President Erdogan demanded a truce in Idlib, Russian President Putin objected.
There are more than 30 insurgent factions in Idlib, most notably the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, estimated to number more than 50,000, according to the Russian delegate to the Security Council.
The Syrian army has mobilized tens of thousands of soldiers, in addition to hundreds of tanks and other fire support weapons, to wage a major battle aimed at liberating the last militant-held areas of northwest Syria.