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Rebels repel Syrian government forces’ push into south Idlib

Beirut: Syrian rebels managed to repel Syrian troops who tried to push into the southern countryside of north-western Idlib province on Tuesday as part of a campaign for key rebel-held areas, including the stronghold of Khan Sheikhoun.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told dpa that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were focusing their offensive on a small area called Tarai, which lies east of Khan Sheikhoun.
Khan Sheikhoun, the largest town in the south of Idlib, is located on the international M5 Aleppo-Damascus highway, which also passes through Homs.
The government’s attempts to take Tarai had been repelled, Abdel Rahman said. He added that rebels had managed to ambush government forces as they were trying to move into Tarai and had killed 13 of the advancing forces. The watchdog said this is the second attempt in the last 24 hours by the troops to take Tarai, adding that nine rebels were also killed.
Abdel Rahman warned earlier that, if the government takes Khan Sheikhoun, “rebels in the area of northern Hama countryside will be in [a] difficult position. Either they will have to withdraw or fight till the end, as they will be under siege.” “There have been heavy confrontations in Tarai since Monday,” said Brigadier Abu Salem, spokesman of the Jaish al-Ezze group, which controls areas in Hama. (DPA)

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