Syria army hunting militants near Idlib

Syria army hunting militants near Idlib
Sun Feb 16, 2014 08:51:56

The Syrian armed forces have launched an offensive against foreign-backed militants holed up in the suburbs of the northwestern city of Idlib.

Army units on Saturday cleared the area, known to be a stronghold of the so-called Lewa al-Tawhid Brigade, and cut off their supply lines.

The offensive comes as part of the army’s intensified operations against militant groups across the country.

Official Sana news agency said government forces also killed a number of militants, among them Lebanese and Saudi nationals, in the village of al-Zarah, west of Homs city.

It cited security sources who reported fighting between army forces and militants affiliated with the so-called Lewa al-Mua’tasem Battalion on the outskirts of Dara’a.

A number of militants, including its leader identified as Mohammad Saleh al-Ewayed, were reportedly killed in the clashes.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Reports indicate that more than 130,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to foreign-backed militancy.

Western powers and their regional allies -- namely Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- are widely believed to be supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

In a report released in December 2013, the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) said between 3,300 and 11,000 militants from over 70 countries were fighting against the Syrian government from late 2011 to December 10, 2013.

The UN warned against the humanitarian situation in Syria, saying that over nine million people are in need of urgent aid due to the foreign-hatched crisis in the Middle Eastern state.


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