Almost 100000 displaced by fighting in northwest Syria's Idlib since December 1

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Syria's state media say government forces and their allies are approaching a sprawling rebel-held air base in the northwestern province of Idlib from different directions.

The fighting, in the southern part of the Idlib Province, aimed to stall the advance by the Syrian forces toward Abu al-Duhur airbase.

Russia's Defence Ministry had asked the Turkish military on Wednesday to tighten control over armed groups in Idlib after two groups of drones attacked Russian bases on January 6. FSA rebels and the Nusra Front had been reported to have been fighting.

In the event, at least one rebel group - this being Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) - has made a decision to re-militarize the Al-Hass area and to this end, the last twelve hours has witnessed the jihadist faction flood southwest Aleppo with reinforcements. "We have killed many".

"We are witnessing a clear intensification of Russia's military strategy, with systematic attacks on civilian facilities perpetrated with total disregard for global law", warns Fadel Abdul Ghany, Chairperson of the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

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Rebel sources said warplanes had struck Khan Sheikhoun and Saraqeb, two major population centers in Idlib province that are among several towns that have been targeted in the latest offensive.

It added that the rebels had used Turkish vehicles.

The three countries had agreed a year ago to establish a "de-escalation zone" in the opposition-held Idlib province and surrounding region, which borders Turkey.

The government offensive has displaced tens of thousands of people who fled toward areas close to the Turkish border.

Many Syrians living in rebel-held areas see Turkey's military intervention as a bulwark against a relentless bombing campaign by Syrian and Russian airforces they blame for killing and injuring hundreds of civilians in urban areas in recent months, away from the frontlines.

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