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Clashes in Syria’s Idlib kill 27 fighters: Monitor

Clashes in Syria’s Idlib kill 27 fighters: Monitor

AFP
Beirut
Clashes pitting Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies against pro-regime forces left 27 fighters dead Thursday including two Turkish soldiers in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, a war monitor reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 11 pro-regime fighters and 14 on the rebel side were killed as well as the two Turkish soldiers.
Ankara’s defence ministry likewise reported two Turkish soldiers killed in an air strike in the Idlib region. Turkey blamed the Syrian regime for the deaths of two of its soldiers on Thursday in the rebel stronghold of Idlib, as tensions also escalated with Moscow which accused Ankara of “supporting terrorists”.
The Observatory said Syrian rebels backed by Turkish artillery fire had seized the Nayrab area between provincial capital Idlib and the key regime-controlled town of Saraqeb.
They withdrew following several hours of clashes and dozens of Russian and regime air strikes, it said.
The Observatory added that jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham also targeted Syrian government forces in Nayrab.
Turkish forces also fired artillery at Saraqeb, a regime-controlled town on a key highway from Damascus to Aleppo, it said.
Both the Turks and the Syrian government claimed the other side had been defeated. Syrian government and allied forces have in recent weeks conducted a devastating offensive, with Russian backing, to flush out the last rebel enclave in the country.
The area hosts some three million people, many of them displaced by violence elsewhere.
The assault has allowed the regime to reclaim swathes of territory in the south of Idlib province and in neighbouring Aleppo province.
The fighting has also caused an unprecedented wave of displacement, with around 900,000 people -- more than half of them children -- forced to flee their homes and shelters since December, according to UN figures.
Meanwhile, a bomb explosion wounded two people in Damascus on Thursday, the state news agency reported, the latest of several such attacks in the Syrian capital.
“An explosive device planted on a pickup truck went off in the Marjeh area” in central Damascus, SANA said, adding that two civilians were wounded by the blast.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the device was a “sticky bomb” planted on a military vehicle, although it was not immediately clear what the target was.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, nor for a similar explosion that wounded five people in another neighbourhood of Damascus on Tuesday.
The Syrian capital was routinely targeted by major car bomb attacks in the course of the nine-year-old conflict but blasts have been less frequent since regime forces reclaimed full control of the Damascus region in 2018.