Population movement in Syria: the link between Idlib and Afrin | The Strategist – In 2015, Russian air power and foreign ground troops turned the tide of the Syrian civil war in President Bashar al-Assad’s favour. With superior armaments and the influx of veteran fighters, the government retook many rebel-held areas, along with their populations and fighters antagonistic to Assad’s rule. To avoid a perpetual low-level insurgency, the government began to move the rebel-aligned populations to Idlib in the country’s northeast.
Such population transfers quickly became the norm. After retaking the rebel enclave in the old city of Homs in May 2014, the Syrian government offered some 1,400 civilians and fighters safe passage to Idlib.