The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that fierce clashes are taking place on several axes in the eastern countryside of Idlib, between regime forces on the one hand, and mercenary groups on the other hand, in a fierce and large-scale attack carried out by the latter on the axes of Salmiyya, Jada’iya, Tal Marq, and Sham Hawa located east of Khan Sheikhoun city.
Turkey's mercenary groups began their offensive with heavy ground preparations, as regime forces attempted to counter the attack backed by warplanes, helicopters and Russian planes, as well as intensive and reciprocal ground shelling.
The Syrian Observatory documented heavy casualties from the fierce fighting there, with 23 members of the regime forces and 20 mercenaries killed.
The regime forces were able to take control of several areas in Idlib and Hama countryside, including the city of Khan Sheikhoun and the strategic international road linking Aleppo to Damascus, after the withdrawal of mercenary groups to reach the Turkish observation point, which fate is still unknown.
The escalation and counterattack by the Turkey-backed mercenary groups comes hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet to discuss the situation in Idlib and its surroundings.
The Kremlin responded yesterday to Erdogan, saying that the regime's attack with the support of Russia threatens the Turkish national security, that the "extremists" in Idlib should be brought to an end.