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Pro-Syria regime media say Khan Sheikhoun has fallen to Assad

Khan Sheikhoun is under attack by Assad and Russia [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 August, 2019

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Pro-regime media outlets are saying Khan Sheikhoun has fallen to the brutal Assad regime.

The strategic Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun has fallen to the brutal Assad regime and allied Russian forces, pro-regime media on Wednesday has claimed.

Ten of thousands have fled to Syria-Turkey border over the past few days as Bashar al-Assad regime forces pushes further into the opposition's last major stronghold in the Idlib province.

Those fleeing left Maarat al-Numaan, a city in Idlib, which has been bombarded on-off by dictator Bashar al-Assad since February.

A Russian-led push has come close to capturing the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun further south.

In April, the ground operation to supplement the bombardment rebels began, leaving hundreds and thousands displaced within a matter of weeks, and killing at least 800 to this day.

"The flow of cars and vehicles leaving is not stopping," Abdullah Younis from the city told Reuters.

Rescuers on the ground estimate around 60,000 people had fled in the last four days alone.

Anti-Assad forces withdrew from Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday as the Assad regime tried to take back the Idlib province.

Turkey warned the Assad regime to "not to play with fire" after the advance saw government fighters almost encircle a patch of countryside which included an important Turkish monitoring post.

After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to Assad's Russia-backed government.

In the early hours of Tuesday, anti-Assad fighters pulled back from the town of Khan Sheikhoun and the countryside to its south, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

The withdrawal means a Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek, as well as a string of surrounding villages, are effectively surrounded by government forces, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

All roads leading out of the area are either controlled by government forces or within range of their guns, he said.

Also Tuesday, 12 civilians including three children were killed in raids in several locations in southeast Idlib, the Observatory said.

Among the casualties, nine of them died in Russian strikes, it added.

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