TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Syrian Army troops continued operations near Ma’arrat al-Numan in the southeastern countryside of Idlib province on Monday, clearing tens of villages in the area.

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Syrian forces launched artillery and rocket fire, against the positions of the terrorists during the operations before being able to liberate at least 46 villages and agricultural areas in the Jarjanaz region.

According to reports by SANA, clashes between the Syrian army and terrorists of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) have intensified in the Idlib countryside in recent weeks.

Since mid-December, the Syrian army has been clearing Idlib of terrorist groups, including Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) and Tahrir al-Sham. Earlier in the week, the Syrian troops entered the town of Jarjanaz, which is located 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of Maarrat al-Numan, a major stronghold of militants in the southern part of Idlib.

Under a deal reached following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in September 2019, all militants should have withdrawn from the demilitarization zone by October 15 that year.

However, al-Qaeda-linked Takfiri terrorists said they refuse to either leave the buffer zone or hand over their weapons.

On August 5, the Syrian army declared in a statement the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.