Syrian Troops Retake Idlib Towns, Approach Key City Maarat Numaan

Strategic city connects Damascus and Aleppo

After al-Qaeda and its Islamist allies pushed the Syrian military back in the area around Idlib Province, a two-day counter-offensive has put the military on the verge of contesting control over the strategically valuable Maarat Numaan.

The two day offensive, backed by Russian airstrikes, has seen them overrun several smaller towns and villages in the approach, with the Syrian Observatory reporting six have fallen in the last 24 hours.

Maarat Numaan has been called the “gateway to Idlib” throughout this fighting, as the first major target in a big push to reclaim the rebel-dominated province. The value is far greater, however.

Maarat Numaan is also along the main highway connecting Syria’s two most important cities, Aleppo and the capital of Damascus. The Syrian military expelled the rebels from Aleppo, and controls them both now, but having a direct control of the entire highway between them would also be a huge boost to their control over the country.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.