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Last Regime Strongholds in Idleb Within Rebel Sights

Regime struggles to maintain military presence in Jisr al-Shughour and Idleb after opposition factions overrun the area
Last Regime Strongholds in Idleb Within Rebel Sights

Only a number of military points remain under regime control after Syrian opposition forces seized the cities of Jisr al-Shughour and Idleb.

Opposition factions affiliated to the operations room of Army of Fatah had recently tightened the siege on these areas, cutting most of the supply routes via Lattakia province in the west, and the province of Aleppo in the north, while the international highway is now completely under opposition control. The opposition maintains control of the road between Khan Shaykhun in the south, to Aleppo in the north, in addition to the road connecting Lattakia, Hama and Idleb.

In the countryside of Idleb, the regime still holds Abu az-Zuhur military airport – the only airport in the province still in regime's hands. The airport is located in the desert between the southeast of Maraat an-Numan and the east of the city of Saraqeb in the countryside of Idleb.

Regime forces previously used the airport in former military operations to bomb areas in the countryside of Idleb. Abu az-Zuhur military airport and Hama military airport constitute Brigade 14, under the command of Brigadier General Hassan Wadii Ali, along with his deputy, Brigadier General Ihsan Mahmoud az-Zuhouri, and Chief of Staff Brigadier General Abdul Wahab Osman from Kafarnbel in Idleb.

Opposition forces managed to enter the airport in May 2013, disabling the movement of warplanes after destroying the runway. "The disabled airport now receives supplies via helicopters", confirmed opposition military sources.

The regime maintains two strongholds in the pro-regime, Shiite towns of Kefraya and Fua – two towns considered to be a recruitment hub for regime forces and National Defense Force militias.

The two towns are located in the east of the city of Idleb, and they are surrounded by other towns and villages, mostly held by opposition forces.

Since the outset of the Syrian revolution, the regime strengthened its presence in these towns by deploying a large number of troops on their outskirts. Regime forces forcibly recruited the sons of these two towns in the battles in Idleb countryside and a number of other Syrian provinces, such as Damascus and Homs.

According to media activist Mohammed Haj Qaddour: "from the very beginning of the revolution, the regime turned these towns into military barracks to target opposition-held villages and towns. Many checkpoints and military points were set up on the outskirts of these towns, artillery batteries and rocket launchers were distributed between them to target the surrounding villages with missiles and rockets almost daily, namely the cities of Binnish, Marrat Misrin, Taftanaz, Tuoum and Idleb after the opposition managed to seize it".

Haj Qaddour said the regime used hovercrafts to deliver boxes containing ammunition, weapons and food to the towns recently besieged by opposition factions.

Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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