The Syrian army on Monday (August 19th) continued its march north of the city of Khan Cheikhoun, held by the jihadists of al-Qaeda's ex-branch. The fighting killed nearly 40 people in both camps and pushed 25,000 civilians to flee the area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Syrian and Russian planes blocked a large convoy of the Turkish army heading south of Idleb Province.
With our correspondent in Beirut, Paul Khalifeh
Under a powerful barrage of artillery and after dozens of air raids, the Syrian army on Monday continued its advance north of the key town of Khan Cheikhoun , in the province of Idleb.
His strategy is to occupy the hills and control the roads to prevent jihadists from receiving reinforcements. In a very bad position, they continue to oppose a strong resistance to the government troops and the high number of victims on both sides testifies to the violence of the battle in progress: more than 150 fighters killed in less than 48 hours.
The situation was complicated on Monday with the entry into Syria of a large convoy of the Turkish army with about fifty vehicles including five tanks and dozens of armored personnel carriers. Damascus accused Ankara of providing weapons and ammunition to jihadists and rebels encircled in Khan Cheikhoun.
The convoy was stopped 15 kilometers north of Khan Cheikhoun by Russian and Syrian air raids, targeting rebel vehicles that served as scouts for the Turkish army.
Intensified fighting pushed 25,000 people to flee their towns and villages. 725,000 civilians have been displaced since the start of the government offensive on April 30, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.