Coming from the east the Syrian army crossed the M5 highway north and south of the city in a pincer movement. The Jihadis who had held the city fled westwards towards Kafranabel and Al Barah on the only roads left to move out. The city itself was taken without a fight. The map above does not yet reflect this latest development. Pictures by a Russian photographer show Syrian troops within the city. There is significant damage within the city from the bombing campaign that preceded the attack.
According to a BBC producer in Syria the Jihadis confirmed the takeover:
Riam Dalati @Dalatrm - 2:36 PM · Jan 28, 2020
#Syria rebel accounts seem to confirm pro-regime narrative of #MaaratalNuman takeover. 'Dear God, we're placing Maarat under your custody. Please preserve it with your care'. A repeat of #KhanSheikhoun takeover when #HTS evacuated during the night through #SAA intentional gap.
The move cuts off a Turkish observation point south of Maarat al Nunman. It is the third such point that is now surrounded by Syrian government forces. Earlier today a convoy of some 30 Turkish vehicles had entered Idleb governorate from Turkey. It is expected to erect a new observation point near Saraqib where the M4 and M5 highway come together. Saraqib will be the next target for the Syrian army campaign.