Ongoing clashes in Syria’s Idlib province leave 27 fighters dead: War monitor

This picture taken on February 20, 2020 shows smoke plumes rising following a reported air strike near a Turkish military observation point between the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib and the neighbouring town of Qaminas. (AFP)

Clashes pitting Turkish forces and their Syrian opposition 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 opposition's side were killed as well as the two Turkish soldiers.

Ankara's defense ministry likewise reported two Turkish soldiers killed in an airstrike in the Idlib region.

The Observatory said Syrian opposition fighters backed by Turkish artillery fire had seized the Nayrab area between provincial capital Idlib and the key regime-controlled town of Saraqib.

They withdrew following several hours of clashes and dozens of Russian and regime airstrikes, it said.

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The Observatory added that jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham also targeted Syrian government forces in Nayrab.

Turkish forces also fired artillery at Saraqib, 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 opposition 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 neighboring 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.

Last Update: 19:39 KSA 22:39 - GMT 19:39