Syrian army seizes Damascus to Aleppo highway
February 11, 2020 - Syrian government troops, backed by Russian air cover, have taken control of the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway for the first time since 2012, following weeks of fighting that has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee.
Syrian forces seized the entire length of the M5 highway after capturing a western suburb of Aleppo from insurgents, as the government intensified its campaign to capture the last opposition stronghold in Syria’s northwest.
Last week, government troops recaptured Saraqib, a strategic crossroads town where the M5 intersects with a main west-east highway.
The latest advances by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces come after 13 Turkish troops were killed in the northwestern Idlib region over the past week, prompting some of the most serious confrontations between Ankara and Damascus, Reuters said.
Nearly a quarter of the three million people in Idlib and surrounding areas have surged north to escape the widening, multi-front assault by Assad’s forces. The exodus is one of the largest of the nine-year civil war and risks creating one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the conflict.