Syrian rebels launch counter-offensive in Idlib

Syrian rebels, including jihadists, launched a counter-attack against the Syrian army in the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo on Monday in an attempt to roll back the gains of Syrian government troops, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said.

"One personnel carrier, several rocket launchers and a tank belonging to the Syrian regime were destroyed in the offensive," Anadolu said.

Shelling by Syrian government forces killed 13 Turkish soldiers this month and Turkey has said it had mounted counter-bombardments that killed many more Syrian troops.

The Syrian armed opposition is squeezed into a shrinking area of Idlib province, where more than 3 million inhabitants, many of them civilians who fled fighting elsewhere in the country, as well as thousands of rebels have taken refuge.

The Russian-backed Syrian government launched an attack on Idlib in April, saying a 2018 de-escalation agreement between Turkey and Russia had failed to drive extremist fighters from the province. Turkish-backed Syrian militias agreed in December to fight alongside a jihadist organisation that dominates Idlib.