Further complicating the Thursday counterattack by rebels in the Idlib Province, the Syrian state media outlet SANA is quoting Syrian commanders who say that the Turkish government participated in the rebel push.
Regime forces backed by Russian warplanes launched an offensive on December 25 in Idlib province, the last in the country that remained fully outside the government's control.
Militant factions justified their withdrawal decision by saying that a mass encirclement of rebel fighters in southwest Aleppo due to Syrian Army advances in eastern Idlib was highly possible and this made it strategically unfeasible or militarily wasteful to defend the Al-Hass region.
Turkey has accused the Syrian government of using the presence of the Nusra Front, which now fights under the banner of the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, as an excuse to attack civilians and moderate opposition groups.
A military media unit run by the Assad regime's Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and a Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said on Friday the army had recaptured several villages taken in the rebel counterattack. "We have killed many". A Syrian military source denied this and dismissed rebel talk of a counter attack as propaganda.
Aftermath of al Assad attack on Eastern Ghouta on January 4
In May past year, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement to set up de-escalation centres in Syria.
In a statement from the Syrian presidency Thursday, Assad said the "major victories of the army in cooperation with Russian Federation and its other allies... have strengthened efforts for a peaceful solution" to the conflict.
Ankara is concerned that wider fighting in the province could bring tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing from the battlefields on its borders far beyond the numbers now fleeing.
The International Rescue Committee said it had received hundreds of people newly displaced from the latest fighting in Idlib, many of them housed in makeshift tents.
Winter weather advisory in effect for region
The ice will result will result in very slippery conditions on sidewalks, roads and bridges, resulting in hard travel conditions. Wednesday night - Mostly cloudy, with a low around 8. "Parts of west Tennessee and northeast MS could see 1-2" of snow.