Syrian Troops Capture Key Idlib Town of Maarat Numaan

Town is on vital highway between Damascus and Aleppo

After several days of gains in the surrounding area, Syria’s military captured the Idlib Province town of Maarat al-Numaan on Wednesday. The town is strategically vital, and has long been held by al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups.

Maarat al-Numaan is considered the first step into Idlib Province, allowing them to push deeper into what is the last major rebel-dominated area in western Syria. The town has been contested several times, but has been rebel-held since 2012.

The most important part of Maarat al-Numaan, however, is its location. The town is considered vital to control of all of Syria, because it is on the main highway connecting Damascus and Aleppo, Syria’s two most important cities.

It doesn’t appear the town’s fall involved much fighting. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights noted that the military left a road out of town open to allow rebels to pull out without fighting, and many of them did. There was some firing reported, however, and a reporter for RT was reported wounded.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.