AMMAN (Reuters) – Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian rebels it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and rebel sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of rebel-held territory in the northwest of the country.
President - Bashar - Assault - Month - Rebels
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched the assault last month, saying rebels had breached an existing ceasefire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and his enemies in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.
Turkey - Readiness - Influence - Syria - Troop
In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior rebel commander said.
Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight - Convoy - Base - Hama - Jabal
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near rebel-held Jabal al Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks,...
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