POST TIME: 17 January, 2020 12:55:55 PM
Dozens killed as Damascus presses Idlib offensive
AFP, Beirut

Dozens killed as Damascus presses Idlib offensive

A Syrian walks on the rubble of a building following a regime air strike on Ariha town in Syria's last major opposition bastion of Idlib on Wednesday. (Inset) A Syrian boy cries as he is evacuated after the regime air strike. AFP Photo

Dozens of fighters and civilians were killed in Syria’s Idlib province as the government pressed a deadly offensive  yesterday towards a key town in the country’s last rebel bastion. The latest violence, which followed air strikes that killed 18 civilians on Wednesday, buried a ceasefire deal announced by Russia and rebel backer Turkey that never really took hold. “Clashes broke out around midnight on Wednesday south of the city of Maaret al-Numan, together with heavy bombardment despite the Russian-Turkish truce,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.

According to the Britain-based war monitor, the fighting raged in areas south of Maaret al-Numan, the key target of the Syrian government’s latest military offensive.

At least 22 anti-government fighters were killed, most of them members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group that includes fighters from the former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Seventeen government troops and allied militia were also killed in the fighting, the Observatory said.

Abdel Rahman added that government forces were now just seven kilometres (less than five miles) from Maaret al-Numan, a town that was one of the bastions of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.