On Thursday the Syrian army entered Saraqeb town in northwestern Idlib province in the latest push to capture the last rebel stronghold, state media said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that Ankara expected Russia to immediately stop the government attacks, which killed eight Turkish military personnel on Monday and prompted Turkish forces to strike back.
Syrian forces, who are backed by Russian air strikes, had on Wednesday encircled and entered Saraqeb, 15 km east of Idlib city. The town lies at the junction of two main roads that Assad seeks to fully control to regain Idlib province, the last rebel bastion in the nearly nine-year-long civil war.
Rebel fighters “managed to push back government forces from most of Saraqeb in an attack from the northern part of the town that coincided with Turkish shelling against advancing government forces,” the Observatory said.
The fighting, taking place despite a Jan. 12 ceasefire deal between Turkey and Russia, disrupted fragile cooperation between the two countries that support opposing sides in the conflict.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were no plans currently for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to meet to reduce tensions in Idlib but that such a meeting could be quickly organised if needed.
Russia also said some of its troops had been killed in the militant attacks, its first confirmation of casualties in the current round of fighting.