Duvar English / Reuters

Two hundred air strikes by Syrian government and Russian warplanes have hit Syria’s Idlib region in the last three days, the U.S. special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey said on Jan. 30.

Jeffrey told a press briefing that some 700,000 displaced people in northwest Syria were “on the move towards the Turkish border, which would then create an international crisis.”

Jeffrey’s comments came after Syrian government forces entered the town of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib on Jan. 28 in a significant advance for President Bashar al-Assad as he seeks to recapture rebel-held territory in the country’s northwest.

Assad’s campaign to regain Idlib province, the last rebel bastion in a nearly nine-year-long civil war, has sparked a new exodus of thousands of civilians towards the border with Turkey.

Maarat al-Numan, the second largest town in Idlib province, is located on the main highway linking the capital Damascus with Aleppo in northern Syria.

The renewed fighting comes despite a Jan. 12 ceasefire deal between Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides of the conflict.

Turkey already hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees and fears millions more could soon cross the frontier.