On February 3, units of the Syrian Army liberated the villages of Nayrab and Tornaba near the miltiant stronghold of Saraqib in the province of Idlib from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and similar groups. With this advance government forces deployed in 7km southeast of Idlib city, and outflanked Saraqib from the western direction after cutting off the M4 highway.
Earlier on the same day, the Turkish military reported that the Syrian Army had struck its forces in the Idlib zone killing and injuring several Turkish service members. According to local sources, the incident happened near Saraqib, which Ankara wanted to protect by using own troops as human shields.
Meanwhile, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria reported that Turkish forces had ignored a joint patrol scheduled with the Russian Military Police in northwestern Syria for February 3. So, Russian forces conducted a patrol without their Turkish counterparts. This incident demonstrates that Ankara and Moscow have a very different vision of the current situation in Idlib. Ankara claims that the ‘Assad regime’ and big bad Russians are opressing the seedlings of democracy there, while Moscow recently promised to mercy to terrorists there.