DAMASCUS, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army seems determined to capture rebel-held areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces in northern Syria, with two official statements released Saturday regarding such intention.
The Syrian army said in a statement on Saturday evening that it's determined to put an end to the "violations" of the rebels of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and allied militant groups in Aleppo and Idlib.
It charged that the Nusra Front and like-minded groups are targeting residential areas in Aleppo and de-escalation zones in Idlib, noting that the Syrian military assault will not stop at responding to the attacks and violations, but it will continue until fully eradicating the terrorist groups.
The rebels' attacks are spreading "death, destruction and fear" among civilians, "which is not allowed to continue," the statement read.
"The lives of the innocent civilians are trusted to the Syrian army, which is determined to put a final end to the repeated violations of the rebels that are hindering the return of normal life to areas in Aleppo and Idlib," the statement added.
Earlier in the day, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that the military operation of the Syrian army will continue in rebel-held areas in the countryside of Aleppo and Idlib provinces in northern Syria.
The military operation against the rebels in Aleppo and Idlib comes as part of the Syrian forces' retaliation against the shelling of the rebels on residential areas, including that in Aleppo where 23 people have been killed over a week, said the ministry.
The ministry said the Syrian military campaign is "precise and studied" and comes to respond to the "calls of the civilians" who are being struck by the rebels in Aleppo and Idlib.
It said the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front is still preventing civilians from leaving through the three humanitarian corridors set up by the Russian and Syrian forces in Aleppo and Idlib recently.
Earlier in the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said intense battles are taking place in the countryside of Idlib province in northwestern Syria and the countryside of Aleppo province in the north.
The battles are part of the offensive launched by the Syrian army in the southern and southeastern countryside of Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo, according to the observatory.
The UK-based watchdog said the Syrian army advanced toward the city of Maarat al-Numan in southern Idlib amid airstrikes and shelling on rebel positions.
The army forces are three kilometers away from the city, which is crucial in securing the stretch of the main road between Hama and Aleppo through Idlib.
The progress on Saturday comes two days after the rebels in Idlib launched a massive counter-offensive against the government forces in southern Idlib, during which they reportedly captured several points and pushed the army to redeploy.
Meanwhile, the observatory said that civilians continued to leave their areas in the western and southwestern countryside of Aleppo as a result of the military showdown.
It noted that more than 90,000 people have so far left their areas in western Aleppo over the past 11 days amid the escalation in the military campaign.
The Syrian army has been prioritizing capturing areas in Aleppo and Idlib as part of the effort to secure the entire road connecting the capital Damascus in the south with Aleppo in the north.