BEIRUT (Sputnik) – Syrian government forces drove Jabhat al-Nusra militants from the outskirts of the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, an army source told Sputnik on Thursday.
"A military operation to liberate the city of Idlib has not stopped… The army has gained control over northern and northwestern heights near the village of Motaram," the source said.
According to the source, who is a Syrian army officer, the area holds great strategic importance as it is well positioned for targeting the road used by militants to deliver assistance to militant-controlled Idlib.
Idlib is strategically close to the Turkish border and to a major highway connecting the Syrian capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo.
Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as al-Nusra Front, is one of the rebel groups that the Syrian army has been fighting since the start of an internal conflict in the country in 2011.
According to UN data, fighting around Idlib has led to civilian deaths and displaced some 30,000 people.
The ongoing civil war in Syria has claimed 220,000 lives since 2011, according to UN estimates.