Assad regime begins strikes on Syria's Turkmen Mountain

By Esref Musa, Levent Tok, and Adham Kako

IDLIB, Syria/ANKARA (AA) – The Bashar al-Assad regime and its supporters have begun striking Turkmen Mountain in northwestern Syria’s Latakia province to capture the region, which falls within a network of de-escalation zones.

Artillery units of the regime forces on Friday night carried out intense attacks to the opposition’s frontline to seize the Turkmen Mountain region.

After seizing the previously opposition-held areas of Daraa and Quneitra, the Assad regime is attempting to gain full control of Turkmen Mountain, where Turkmens of Latakia reside, according to Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground in Idlib.

Artillery units of the regime forces on Friday night carried out intense attacks to the opposition’s frontline to seize Turkmen Mountains.

Over the past month, the regime, Iran-backed militia groups, and the pro-Syrian regime militia THKP-C led by Mihrac Ural have been conducting reconnaissance patrols, military build-up and artillery shootings for determining location at the frontline.

According to opposition sources, Turkmen Mountain carries great importance since it is on the Idlib-Latakia route, and if it is seized, the regime will have full control of Latakia.

The regime also conducted land- and airstrikes in two villages and a town in Idlib Friday night, east of the Turkmen Mountains.

In 2015, the regime — backed by Russian air power — captured some 85 percent of Latakia’s Turkmen Mountain region, forcing some 20,000 of the area’s Turkmen and Arab inhabitants to flee northward to Turkey.

Under and earlier agreement endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, Turkmen Mountain falls within a network of de-escalation zones in which acts of aggression are expressly forbidden.

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