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Assad vows to defeat rebels, as Syrian regime forces capture new ground

Syria’s President Bashar Assad says his government is determined to win back all Syrian territories, as state media reports significant advances against the last rebel held enclaves in the country’s northwest.

The Syrian government offensive has piled pressure on opposition forces backed by Turkey.

Today, Syrian troops captured at least 30 villages and towns in the western Aleppo countryside, state media (SANA) and activists say.

The fighting in rural Aleppo and nearby Idlib province has unleashed a humanitarian crisis. Over 800,000 civilians out of nearly 4 million living in the enclave have been displaced, living in open fields and temporary shelters for the most part in harsh winter conditions.

The Syrian government’s new advance effectively secures its hold on Aleppo province and its capital for the first time since 2012.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based war monitor Syria Observatory for Human Rights, confirms the report.

“This means the control of Aleppo (city), and the countryside and securing all of Aleppo,” Abdul-Rahman says.

The armed opposition is now squeezed into a shrinking area of nearby Idlib province, where the government is also on the offensive.

The opposition had been driven out of Aleppo city’s eastern quarters in late 2016, which they controlled for years while battling government forces who were in charge in the western part.