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  • The Battle of Saraqeb started eleven days after the victory of the Syrian Army in the Battle of Idlib of March 2012, where they took back the main city of Idlib province. Saraqib was considered an important strategic point because of its size, being the second largest city of the province, and its geographic position at the junction of two highways going to Aleppo: one going south towards Hama, Homs and Damascus, and one going west towards Latakia. It was also used as a base to launch attacks on military convoys. On 24 March, the Syrian Army shelled the city briefly while leading a ground assault at the same time. A column of tanks entered the city to attack the defenses of the rebels, while infantry backed by snipers led the second wave to pursue the remaining fighters. The Free Syrian Army fighters fought back the first day and damaged a tank. In the fighting 18 of them were killed. After the first day, the rebels were forced to withdraw from the city after the army took full control of it. An opposition group accused the army of burning most of the shops in the town and called for observers to come in the city.