In what appears to be a last ditch effort to block the M5 highway, Turkish-backed militants have launched a new large-scale attack on Saraqib city in southeast Idlib.
The attack, which was launched on March 5 afternoon, was reportedly led by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the National Front for Liberation (NFL).
Militants advanced towards Saraqib’s city center as well as the nearby towns of Dadikh and Kafr Battikh. However, the fierce resistance of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and intese Syrian and Russian airstrikes prevented them from making any gains.
According to pro-government sources, dozens of militants were killed and injured during the clashes near Saraqib. The city’s vicinity is witnessing partial calm now.
The new Turkish-backed attack on Saraqib coincided with a Russian-Turkish presidential summit in Moscow, where the escalation in Greater Idlib was discussed.
The attack was clearly an attempt to block the M5 highway, which runs through Saraqib, ahead of a ceasefire expected to be implemented after the Russian-Turkish summit. Turkey is eager to block the strategic highway, linking Damascus and Aleppo.