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Turkey-backed Syrian rebels downed a helicopter belonging to the Syrian army in Idlib’s Saraqib on Feb. 11.

The helicopter was downed by a ground-to-air missile fired by the militants, two rebel commanders told Reuters.

Turkey’s Defense Ministry released a statement on the issue, saying that the ministry received information on “a regime helicopter being downed” in Idlib, adding that Syrian troops were leaving the town of Nayreb.

The incident comes a day after five Turkish soldiers were killed in a Syrian army attack.

Also on Feb. 11, a Turkish official told Reuters that Syrian government forces fired near Turkey’s observation posts in Idlib, prompting retaliation from Turkish forces.

Turkey-backed Syrian rebels could regain territory they have lost in recent days around the town of Saraqeb after they launched a full-fledged attack there, the official added.

Earlier, government forces seized control of a highway in northwest Syria for the first time since 2012, a war monitor said.

The M5 highway is the main road between Aleppo and the capital Damascus and runs through to Deraa in southern Syria.

Syrian forces seized the entire length of the M5 after driving rebels from their last foothold on the road, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said.

Those forces, backed by Russia and Iran, took control of the highway after capturing a western suburb of Aleppo from insurgents as the government intensified its campaign to capture the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria’s nearly nine-year-old war.

Last week, government troops recaptured Saraqeb, a strategic crossroads town where the M5 intersects with a main west-east highway.

The latest advances by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces come after 13 Turkish troops were killed in the northwestern Idlib region over the past week, prompting some of the most serious confrontations between Ankara and Damascus.

Turkish Defense Ministry announced that the country’s forces had struck 115 Syrian government targets, destroying 101 of them.