Last stand: Syria's rebel Idlib prepares for a losing battle

Last stand: Syria's rebel Idlib prepares for a losing battle
FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018 file photo, fighters with the Free Syrian army eat in a cave where they live, in the outskirts of the northern town of Jisr al-Shughur, Syria, west of the city of Idlib. As the decisive battle for Idlib looms, a motley crew of tens of thousands of Syrian opposition fighters, including some of the world's most radical, are digging their heels_ looking for ways to salvage what is possible of an armed rebellion that at one point in the seven-year conflict controlled more than half of the country. (Ugur Can/DHA via AP, File)

BEIRUT (AP) — Opposition fighters in Syria’s Idlib are preparing for a losing battle.

As the decisive stand for their last stronghold looms, this motley crew of tens of thousands is looking for ways to salvage whatever is possible of an armed rebellion that at one point in the seven-year conflict controlled more than half of the country.

Turkey is their only hope.

They dug trenches around towns, reinforced caves for cover and put up sand bags around their positions.

They issued calls to arms, urging young men to join in the defense of Idlib, the Syrian province where opposition fighters expect to make their last stand against Russian- and Iranian-backed government troops they have fought for years.