MAJOR: Backed by Russian bombers, Syrian army closes siege on jihadist-held Khan Shaykhun

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IDLIB – The Syrian army seized a checkpoint northwest of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib province and surrounded the city, a source said on Sunday.

The Al-Watan newspaper reported, citing sources, that the Syrian Army entered Khan Shaykhun, controlled by the terrorist group Al-NUsra Front and its allies, and eliminated numerous radicals while dozens of fighters fled.

“The Syrian Army took over the checkpoint of Al-Fakir in the northwest of the city and carried out the siege,” said the source.

Earlier it was reported that the Syrian army would be moving east and west of Khan Shaykhun, located on the M5 highway, which connects Damascus and Aleppo.

At the end of the recent round of consultations about the Syrian conflict in Kazakhstan’s capital on 2 August, a new truce between government forces and armed groups came into force in Idlib.

Damascus said it would respect the ceasefire as long as the Russian-Turkish agreement reached in Sochi in September 2018 was enforced, including the withdrawal of fighters 20 kilometers from the area and the deposition of weapons.

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However, following a series of truce violations by armed groups, on 5 August the Syrian army resumed operations against the terrorists in Idlib.

Meanwhile, Russian military personnel reported 35 attacks by militants in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo and Latakia in the Idlib descaling zone last Wednesday, Major General Aleksei Bakin, head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, said.

“Thirty-five bombing incidents were reported on August 14,” Bakin said on Thursday, stressing that illegal armed groups continue to violate the ceasefire regime in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

According to the official, militants reportedly attacked eight settlements in Aleppo province and another 15 in Latakia.

Syria has been embroiled in a bloody civil war since 2011, with government forces having to fight numerous armed opposition groups, including terrorist organizations. Russia, in turn, is, alongside Turkey and Iran, one of the guarantors of the ceasefire in the country, as well as supporting Damascus in the fight against extremists, providing humanitarian aid to the local population and assisting refugees in their return home.

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