image Photo: Reuters

Turkish backed rebels make gains in Syria

Syrian government forces continue to push northward supported by Iranian-backed militias and Russian air support, as part of a wide-scale offensive to recapture the last Jihadist-controlled region in the war-torn country after nine years of devastating conflict.

In the past two days, Turkish-backed Islamist rebels managed to seize the town of Nairab less than 48 hours after the Syrian army captured the territory. According to a Turkish security official, his country’s military supported the rebel offensive with shelling and that the Islamist militants were now clearing the town.

Ankara’s involvement has come at a heavy cost, with 17 reported fatalities of Turkish soldiers.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nevertheless remains undeterred from attempts to prevent further territorial conquests in the border region by regime forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. At a press conference in Ankara ahead of an imminent departure to Azerbaijan, Erdogan acknowledged Ankara’s talks with Moscow to mediate a Syrian ceasefire will continue tomorrow with the arrival of a Russian delegation to Turkey tomorrow. He also noted, however, that his hoped four-way summit between Turkey and leaders from Russia, France and Germany has yet to be formalized.

While Turkey is dealing with challenges on its southern border with Syria, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck near the country’s eastern border with Iran. Dozens of villages and towns in both countries were devastate. According to the Turkish Health Ministry, nine people lost their lives while 37 others were injured, including nine in critical condition.

More than 1,000 buildings are reported to have collapsed in Turkey alone, compelling major search and rescue efforts to save those trapped under the rubble.