BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian air strikes hit close to a Turkish army convoy that approached frontlines in northwest Syria on Monday as authorities forces superior on a rebel-held city, a monitor and a insurgent supply mentioned.
There was no quick remark from Ankara, which backs a number of the insurgent factions within the northwest and has deployed forces into Idlib province underneath offers with Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally.
Syrian state media known as the Turkish convoy an act of aggression and mentioned it had entered to assist insurgents within the city of Khan Sheikhoun combating a military advance.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group that studies on the conflict, mentioned the convoy was caught on a freeway after air strikes prevented it from persevering with southwards. It mentioned a fighter accompanying the convoy was killed.
In a single day, Syrian military troops reached the perimeters of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, a insurgent official and a monitor mentioned.
The advance in town, which has been in insurgent arms since 2014, threatens to encircle and expel insurgents from their solely patch of territory in neighboring Hama province.
The northwest is the final main stronghold of the opposition to Assad, whose army has been waging its newest offensive there because the finish of April with Russian assist.
The escalation has killed at the least 500 civilians and uprooted a whole bunch of 1000’s, many stranded close to the border with Turkey, the United Nations says.
Turkey, which hosts some three.6 million Syrian refugees and warns it cannot settle for extra, fears the onslaught in Idlib might spark a brand new inflow.
A collection of truces brokered through Russian-Turkish talks have failed to finish the combating in Idlib, the place Ankara has a dozen army positions.
A witness and a insurgent supply from the Turkey-backed Failaq al-Sham faction mentioned the Turkish convoy entered Idlib on Monday however was stopped due to heavy bombing close by.
Syrian state information company SANA, citing a Overseas Ministry supply, mentioned the Turkish convoy loaded with munitions wouldn’t have an effect on “the dedication of the Syrian Arab Military to maintain looking the remnants of terrorists”.
HEAVY AIR STRIKES
Colonel Mustafa Bakour of the Jaish al-Izza insurgent faction mentioned battles raged on the outskirts of the city. Fighters arrived to bolster the frontline, he mentioned, together with some from the Nationwide Military, a Turkey-backed insurgent power based mostly additional north close to the border.
He mentioned there was “worldwide silence” over the surge of violence in Idlib, which he mentioned raised the query of whether or not world powers had agreed on the offensive.
France known as on Friday for a right away finish to the combating and condemned air strikes on camps for the displaced.
Khan Sheikhoun, alongside a freeway stretching from the capital Damascus to Aleppo metropolis, was bombed with sarin in 2017, an assault that killed dozens of individuals, wounded a whole bunch and prompted a U.S. missile strike.
An investigation by the United Nations and the Group for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons blamed the assault on the Syrian authorities. Damascus denies utilizing such weapons.
Professional-government forces had been combating to march into Khan Sheikhoun on Monday, as heavy air strikes hit positions and cities within the south of Idlib, the Observatory mentioned.
The military has closed in in town from the east and west since a quick ceasefire collapsed earlier this month.
Residents mentioned warplanes pounded the city and close by villages in the course of the evening.
Reporting by Ellen Francis and Tom Perry in Beirut, and Khalil Ashawi in Turkey; Extra reporting by Dominic Evans in Istanbul; Enhancing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry