Syrian forces gain ground in Idlib offensive

epa05884222 Armed men take position at a damaged building in Teshreen neighborhood, which lies on the frontline of the fighting with government forces, outskirts of Damascus, Syria, 01 April 2017 (issued 02 April 2017). The two neighborhoods of Teshreen and al-Qaboun are located in eastern Damascus and have been controlled by opposition forces since 2013. Rebels in the two adjacent neighborhoods signed a ceasefire agreement with the Syrian regime in 2014, however fighting erupted again in February as forces loyal to the government allegedly targeted the rebels-controlled suburbs with rockets and artillery fire. EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

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Syrian regime forces seized a town on the edge of Idlib province on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said, their first ground advance since resuming an offensive on the opposition-dominated enclave more than three months ago.

The region of north-western Syria, which is home to an estimated 3 million civilians, has come under almost daily Syrian and Russian bombardment since late April.

The most recent fighting focused on an area straddling Idlib and Hama provinces and claiming dozens of lives on both sides.

The regime’s latest gains were in the north of Hama province, which lies to the south of Idlib.

The area has escaped the control of Bashar Assad’s regime since 2015 and is the last major bastion of opposition to his regime and its allies.

The capture of Al-Habeet, one of several strategic targets for advancing pro-regime forces, came after another night of deadly fighting, the Observatory said.

According to the Britain-based monitor’s tally, 70 combatants were killed on Saturday alone, 32 of them pro-regime forces. The remaining 38 were from the opposing ranks of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham and allied opposition fighters.

Via Arab News / VOA

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