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Putin and Erdogan meet in Istanbul, amid ongoing battles in Syria’s Idlib

Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham’s fighters in a battle in the eastern countryside of Idlib - 8 January 2020 (HTS-linked news agency,Ibaa )

Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham’s fighters in a battle in the eastern countryside of Idlib - 8 January 2020 (HTS-linked news agency,Ibaa )

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The al-Fateh al-Mubeen factions are carrying out hit-and-run attacks against the Syrian regime forces in the axes of the eastern countryside of Idlib, in conjunction with the meeting of the Turkish and Russian presidents on 8 January.

The National Liberation Front (NLF) announced, through its official media outlets, today, Wednesday, 8 January, that the opposition factions have killed and wounded a number of the Syrian regime forces while countering the regime’s attempts to advance on the newly recovered areas by the opposition.

The NLF added that battles and clashes are still taking place on the axes of the region between the two warring sides, under continued mutual missile and artillery shelling, with attempts to confront the regime’s advance on the region.

Today, the run-state Syrian News Channel, known as al-Ikhbaria, pointed out that “units of the Syrian Armed Army thwarted an attack by armed groups on the axes of the towns of Smakha and Bersa in rural Idlib, east of Maraat al-Numan city.”

However, Sham FM, a pro-regime radio station, indicated that the fierce fighting between the Syrian regime forces and opposition factions resulted in no change in the map of control in the area.

The factions of the Fateh al-Mubeen operation room operating in Idlib launched an attack on the sites of the Syrian regime forces, during which they re-gained control of three villages (Samkha, Bersa, and Idlim) in the eastern countryside of Idlib, by targeting intensively with rocket launchers and heavy artillery.

The al-Fateh al-Mubeen Factions also declared the destruction of the “anti-armor” missile base, and the killing and wounding of dozens of regime fighters, including officers, in addition to seizing a tank, a BMP vehicle, some heavy and medium weapons, ammunition and armored vehicles, according to pictures published on their official media outlets.

The Assad regime established control over 31 villages with an area of about 320 square kilometers, as a part of ground offensive that began on 19 December, which was accompanied by an air escalation carried out by Russian air power.

Maarat al-Numan and its countryside have experienced an air escalation, which led to emptying the region of its population despite the repeated international condemnation.

The battles coincide today with a meeting between the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Istanbul, Turkey, during which they discuss the situation in Idlib province in particular and in Syria in general, after several messages sent by Ankara during the past days to stop the escalation.

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