Wednesday, April 25, 2018 | ePaper

Syrian state media says Turkey helped rebel attack

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A Turkish military armoured vehicle guards on the border line located opposite the Syrian town of Atimah, Idlib province, in this picture taken from Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey .

Reuters, Beirut :
Syrian state media on Friday cited field commanders as saying Turkey helped anti-government rebels launch a counter attack against the Syrian army and its allies in the northwest this week, underlining recent regional tensions over the fighting.
"Field commanders confirmed to the SANA correspondent that terrorists from the Turkistan Islamic Party with the direct support, direction and planning of the Turkish regime, brought most of their forces... to start their attack," said SANA, the state news agency.
It added that the rebels had used Turkish vehicles. There was no immediate Turkish reaction to the allegations.
Turkey has been a major backer of Syrian rebels but has recently been working with Damascus's allies Iran and Russia in meetings with the stated aim of reducing violence. Rebel groups launched a counter attack in Idlib on Wednesday after a rapid push by the army and its allies towards the Abu al-Duhur airbase.
A military media unit run by the government's Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and a Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Friday the army had recaptured several villages taken in the rebel counter attack.
Turkey has criticized the army's assault in Idlib, located in northwest Syria in the rebels' biggest remaining stronghold, saying on Friday it would cause a new wave of migration. Idlib borders Turkey.
Meanwhile, Rebels launched a counter attack against Syrian government forces and their allies in Idlib province on Thursday, trying to roll back an advance that is fuelling tension with neighboring Turkey.
Fighting raged in Idlib, where a government offensive helped by Iran-backed militia has gathered pace in the last two weeks, according to rebels and a military media unit run by Lebanon's Hezbollah, which is fighting on the Syrian government side.
Idlib province is the biggest chunk of Syria still held by rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, with a population swollen by Syrians who have fled government advances in other parts of the country. Assad has defeated rebels in many parts of western Syria with critical help from Russia and Iran.

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