The Syrian Arab Republic launched the second stage of its offensive against the residual pocket of Al-Qaeda jihadists (now labeled the Levant Liberation Committee - Hayat Tahrir al-Cham) in Idlib Governorate.

At least 1.5 million jihadists and their families have amassed there, and hold hostage about an equal number of Syrians.

The Syrian Arab Army, covered by the Russian air force, liberated the city of Maarat al-Numan, thereby retaking the M5 motorway connecting Aleppo to Damascus.

In accordance with the agreements concluded in Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana), the Turkish army did not intervene.

The German and French NGOs, which have been providing food to the Al-Qaeda jihadists and their families via Turkey, will have to stop doing so as from January 2020, now that Ankara - as per a UN resolution - is no longer under the obligation to allow the supplies for the jihadists to go through.

On 20 December 2019, Germany, Belgium and Kuwait tried to get the Security Council to approve an extension of the cross-border privileges enjoyed by these NGOs. But China and Russia vetoed the motion.

About 400,000 people have fled the fighting. Al-Qaeda jihadists and their families retreated to the city of Idlib, while the Syrians have been accommodated in refugee camps.