Syria opposition launch new offensive against regime in Idlib

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Director of the Extremism and Counterterrorism Programme at the Middle East Institute, Charles Lister tweeted yesterday that major factions including Ahrar Al-Shaam, Nour Al-Din Al-Zinki and the Free Idlib Army were recipients of the weapons, but not the largest opposition conglomerate and former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayaat Tahrir Al-Shaam.

"We are witnessing a clear intensification of Russia's military strategy, with systematic attacks on civilian facilities perpetrated with total disregard for worldwide law", warns Fadel Abdul Ghany, Chairperson of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

Turkey and NGOs have warned of a new humanitarian disaster in Syria with the regime offensive on Idlib, the last province in rebel hands.

The fighting in Idlib has forced almost 100,000 people to flee since early December, the United Nations says.

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The fighting, in the southern part of the Idlib Province, aimed to stall the advance by the Syrian forces toward Abu al-Duhur airbase.

Its forces are now close to the military air base of Abu Duhur, their next target, the war monitor said.

The regime's goal is to retake the southeast of the province in order to secure a route between Damascus and second city Aleppo, both under its control, according to the Observatory.

One, a mother of twins, said she had initially left one of her children behind in the panic to escape the air strikes.

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Lowcock said he was "deeply anxious about civilians affected by the upsurge in violence in Idlib".

The al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) refused to join the two rebel operation parts, and made a decision to fight the Syrian army alone, according to the report.

More than 340,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, which began in 2011 as the regime brutally crushed anti-government protests.

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