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Syrian civil war: Damascus condemns Turkey convoy for Idlib

Syrian civil war: Damascus condemns Turkey convoy for Idlib

  • 19 August 2019
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A Turkish convoy in Idlib reportedly heading for the rebel-held town of Khan SheikhounImage copyright

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Syria has condemned the convoy as an act of aggression and says it is heading for the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun

Syria has condemned a Turkish convoy bound for a town in the rebel-held northern province of Idlib.

Russian and Syrian air strikes are reportedly trying to halt the convoy’s advance – raising fears of direct clashes between the countries.

Idlib is one of the few areas in Syria not under government control.

On Sunday evening a Russian-backed government offensive reached Khan Sheikhoun, the rebel stronghold where the Turkish convoy is headed.

The convoy – reportedly made up of dozens of armoured vehicles – is laden with ammunition, and entered Idlib province on Monday.

Air strikes, which reportedly killed one fighter with the group, have forced the convoy to halt on a highway north of the town.

Syrian state media condemned the move as an act of aggression and said the munitions would not stop government forces “hunting the remnants of terrorists”.

What’s happening in Syria?

Government forces, backed by Russia, reportedly entered the northwest outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun on Sunday. They are seeking to recapture Idlib province from jihadist and rebel groups.

A colonel from a rebel faction confirmed to Reuters news agency that there were battles going on on the outskirts. Fighters from a Turkish-backed rebel force have joined the defence, he said.

Khan Sheikhoun, which was hit by a Sarin gas attack in 2017, is a strategically important town in the south of the province.

Idlib province is the last major anti-Assad stronghold in Syria after eight years of war. In recent weeks government forces have stepped up their assault, killing hundreds of civilians and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Syrian forces have now massed to both the east and west of Khan Sheikhoun, and air strikes are targeting the centre and surrounding villages.

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