Syrian regime capture more towns in Idlib as thousands of civilians flee north

Syrian regime capture more towns in Idlib as thousands of civilians flee north
A Syrian regime offensive into Idlib has seen the opposition lose a number of villages on Thursday.
2 min read
30 August, 2019
White Helmets workers are trying to save the injured [Getty]

Syrian regime forces captured a number of towns and villages from rebel forces in Idlib on Thursday, as air strikes continued to target civilian areas in the opposition province.

Russian-backed regime forces moved into the towns of Al-Tamaanah and Al-Khuwayn in Idlib over the past days, along with villages to the east of the recently captured Khan Sheikhoun.
Overnight, pro-regime fighters "managed to advance in the southern Idlib countryside", Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP.

"The forces are trying to further extend their control in the area of Khan Sheikhoun before they advance north in the direction of the town of Maarat al-Numaan," he added.

The town is the next stop northwards from Khan Sheikhoun - captured last week - on the Damascus-Aleppo highway.

Maarat al-Numaan has been heavily targeted this week by Russian and regime bombers with hospitals and other civilian areas hit.

Regime air strikes killed 12 civilians - half of them children - in Maarat al-Numaan on Wednesday. Another four civilians, including one child were killed in air strikes on other areas of Idlib on Wednesday.

A Russian-backed offensive on Idlib, which began in April, has killed more than 950 civilians and forced more than a 1 million people to flee their homes.

The White Helmets rescue team said on Thursday that almost 10,000 people have been forced to flee their homes over the past 24-hours.

UN envoy Geir Pedersen called for an end to the offensive which is "killing and displacing" civilians in Idlib.

"No one pretends that there is any easy solution to the challenge of countering (Tahrir al-Sham)," he told the Security Council.

"But counter-terrorism cannot put 3 million civilians at risk."

The leaders of Turkey - which opposes Bashar al-Assad's regime - and Russia have met this week to discuss the situation in Idlib after air strikes came close to hitting Turkish observation posts in the province.