Syrian military offensive in Idlib worries France, needs Astana deal revered

More than 600 patients are on the medical evacuation list because there is no treatment available for them in the besieged area

More than 600 patients are on the medical evacuation list because there is no treatment available for them in the besieged area

Earlier in the day, an array of rebel groups in northern Syria unleashed a major counter-offensive to foil a Syrian military campaign in Idlib, following a significant advance of the government forces in that key rebel bastion. The Syrian army, supported by Iran-backed militias and Russian air power, began an offensive in late October in Hama province.

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.

Rebels launched a counter attack on Thursday.

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Syrian troops and allied forces absorbed the attack and regained control of some positions they had withdrawn from, it said.

In the event, at least one rebel group - this being Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) - has chose to re-militarize the Al-Hass area and to this end, the last twelve hours has witnessed the jihadist faction flood southwest Aleppo with reinforcements.

The regime lost control of the Abu Duhur airbase in 2015 after a two-year siege by jihadists, with only the Shiite villages of Fuaa and Kafraya remaining under its control in the whole province.

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The largest opposition-held area, Idlib has been under attack for many months with Syrian and Iranian forces escalating airstrikes and ground assaults in the past three weeks, resulting in a string of villages being won by the regime.

Both the Syrian army and Moscow deny hitting civilian areas and say intensive raids only strike at militants.

It also said it was "outraged" by the ongoing siege in Eastern Ghouta, another rebel-held area, where the United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday that at least 85 civilians have been killed since December 31.

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