Al Qaeda linked insurgents have seized the last Syrian government air base in the northwestern province of Idlib. The air base, which offered the last resort for the Syrian military against the rebels, fell to the rebels recently and has left the province and all its occupants at the mercies of the terror militias.
Syrian state TV said on Wednesday that the Abu al-Duhur air base had been evacuated in the wake of increased attacks from rebels. After a two year standoff with the rebels, the air base, which was the final army garrison in the region, has been evacuated.
The withdrawal of Syria’s forces from the region follows the seizure of major towns in the province by a rebel alliance of various Islamist groups named the Army of Conquest. The group includes Al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front.
The alliance took control of Idlib’s capital Idlib City early on in March and proceeded on a sustained offensive in other towns.
The rebels took advantage of bad weather, which included blinding sand storms, to launch an aggressive attack on the air base. Sustained suicide attacks gave them control of the entrance and several other key positions. In a few days, the base was all but lost.
London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday that the Syrian military had completely abandoned Idlib province. State officials reported that only the predominantly Shia villages of Kfarya and Foua which were led by Lebanese Hezbollah forces remained independent of rebel control.
Arab affairs analyst Sebastian Usher credited the success of the rebel alliance to increased sponsoring from backers Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.
Syria was thrust into a civil war after anti-government protests four years ago turned violent and the government began a crackdown on dissent. Since then, rebel militia, terror groups including ISIS, the Kurds and government forces have faced off consistently, leading to the deaths of over 240,000 lives and the displacement of thousands more. A majority of whom are now flooding Europe for safety.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has himself admitted that his government is facing a shortage of military men and that he would have to sacrifice less important towns for more important ones.
Syria’s crisis is worsening by the setting of every sunset. Just when ISIS is perceived the main threat, other equally deadly terror organizations crop up, seizing swaths of land using brute force and intimidation. Syria’s regime has failed to maintain peace for its people. Only the international community can provide a long lasting solution at this point.