The Syrian government forces have recaptured a strategic highway connecting the capital city of Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo after years of conflict in an offensive against foreign-backed militants.
The Syrian transport ministry said Saturday that the M-5 highway that links the capital, Damascus to the northern city of Aleppo is now open to the public after troops recaptured the major artery route.
“Transport Minister Ali Hammoud announces the opening of the Damascus-Aleppo highway to traffic, placing it at the service of citizens,” the ministry said in a statement.
Clearing the militants from the highway was part of a 2018 Russian-Turkish deal that called for creating a buffer zone between combatants in the Idlib region of the northwest, though fighting has raged on.
Control of the M-5 has been seen as a main goal of the Syrian army’s ongoing offensive to retake the country’s northwest, particularly Idlib province, which is the last stronghold of foreign-backed militants. That comes as the Syrian army continues to make gains against militants in Aleppo and Idlib.
However, Turkey has reinforced its positions in Idlib. Meanwhile, the Syrian army has warned that its air defense systems will shoot down any aircraft that violates the country’s air space.
Separately, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that as many as 2,700 Turkish military vehicles were sent into Syria as the Syrian government forces were making advances in the northern province of Idlib and Aleppo.