IDLIB, Syria/ANKARA, Turkey (AA) - The Assad regime has opened a corridor to allow the Daesh terrorist group to advance into Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, according to Anadolu Agency reporters on the ground.
The latest dispositions have led to a number of clashes between opposition forces and armed anti-regime groups on one hand and Daesh terrorists and regime troops on the other.
Following the withdrawal of regime forces and Iran-backed militia groups, Daesh was able to advance some 30 kilometers into Idlib where it managed to wrest control of the villages of Deribiye and Niha.
The terrorist group has also stepped up attacks on opposition forces and the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an armed anti-regime group, in the Um Halahil and Zerzur regions of Idlib.
Heavily supported by Russian air power, regime forces and Daesh have continued their advance into southeastern Idlib.
Notably, Idlib falls within a network of de-escalation zones -- endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran -- in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
- Assad-Daesh partnership
With the aim of advancing even further into Idlib, much of which is held by opposition forces, the regime and Daesh have been closely coordinating their movements for the past week.
Last October, the regime allowed Daesh to enter opposition-held territory in Idlib by allowing the terrorist group to use a land corridor through Hama province.
Moving in tandem, and relying heavily on Russian air support, regime forces and Daesh have registered significant gains over the last three months.
During this period, regime forces have managed to capture roughly 3,035 square kilometers in eastern and southeastern Idlib, leaving Daesh in control of over 100 villages, according to cartographical measurements carried out by Anadolu Agency.
Such actions on the part of the Assad regime constitute blatant violations of a cease-fire deal backed by Ankara, Moscow and Tehran during earlier peace talks held in Kazakh capital Astana.
Opposition forces have responded to the burgeoning cooperation between the regime and Daesh by establishing a “joint operations room”.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict -- and millions more displaced -- to date.