For the first time in more than seven years, Syrian army forces have reportedly managed to wrest control of a key highway connecting the capital Damascus to the second largest city Aleppo.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Tuesday that Syrian soldiers and their allied fighters had recaptured the M5 highway after liberating an area in Aleppo Province, which was the last militant foothold on the road.
SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the Damascus government retook Aleppo’s Rashideen al-Rabea area, adding, “That means they control the entire M5 for the first time since 2012.”
The liberation of the M5 motorway, which links the capital Damascus to the major cities of Hama, Homs and Aleppo, comes on the back of a months-old operation by the Syrian army to liberate Idlib Province.
Idlib and the area north of Aleppo form part of the only large territory still in the hands of militants. The Syrian military has managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring back almost all of Syrian soil under government control.
In a statement carried by the official SANA news agency on Sunday, Syria’s General Command of the Army and Armed Forces announced that troops making territorial gains in the eastern countryside of Idlib had linked up with their counterparts advancing in southern Aleppo at one crossing point, establishing full control over a number of towns and strategic hills and nearly 600 square kilometers of land.
The Syrian government has complained that the terror outfits occupying Idlib and Aleppo countryside use locals as human shields and prevent them from leaving to safe areas through humanitarian corridors.