MAARAT AL-NUMAN, Syria (Sputnik) – Syrian government troops cleared roughly 15 percent of the Maarat Al-Numan city of mines, as it was recaptured from militants in the northwestern Idlib province earlier this week, Zein al-Abedin, the deputy commander of the military unit specialising in bomb disposal, said on Wednesday.
“Our commanders sent us here soon after the city was liberated. We work here for the second day, we check every house and every street. We continue our work”, al-Abedin told reporters, adding that the unit aimed to fully clear the city within one month.
The commander added that 75 explosive devices were found in the city, including bombs of Turkish and Israeli origin.
The Syrian armed forces captured Maarat Al-Numan earlier this week during a counteroffensive against militants in Idlib – the last stronghold of jihadists in the country.
Liberating Maarat Al-Numan was a part of an operation by the Syrian armed forces to fully restore control over the Damascus-Aleppo highway, a goal that was achieved on Tuesday. The highway, called M5, is again controlled by the government forces for the first time since 2012.
Meanwhile, government forces continue to clash with Turkey-backed militants in the northern part of the country. At the same time, Ankara has carried out several strikes against the Syrian forces, accusing Damascus of violating a ceasefire in the region after eight Turkish nationals were killed in shelling at an observation post in Idlib.