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Rebels withdraw from key bastion in Syria

Damascus, Aug 20 (IANS) Rebel groups were on Tuesday forced to withdraw from their key bastion of Khan Shaykhun town in Syria’s Idlib province as a result of a military offensive in the region, a war monitor reported.

The rebel groups withdrew from Khan Shaykhun for fear of being besieged by the Syrian army, Xinhua news agnecy quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.

The rebels also pulled out from other key towns to the south of Khan Shaykhun, including al-Latamneh, Kafr Zita and Morek, which are located in the northern countryside of Hama province, said the London-based watchdog.

The aforementioned areas had been key bastions for rebel groups in Idlib and Hama provinces.

The Syrian army has been engaged in battles with the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in Khan Shaykhun since last week.

The army has recently advanced on the town in a bid to capture it and secure the part of the main Damascus-Aleppo highway near Idlib.

Idlib and the northern countryside of Hama are included in the de-escalation zones’ deal that was reached between Russia and Turkey last September.

The deal, however, has largely failed despite several attempts to revive it.

The latest attempt to fix the deal came earlier this month when Turkey and Russia mediated a fresh ceasefire in Idlib, which failed quickly with the resumption of the military showdown.

–IANS

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