Syrian army poised to take key town after rebel withdrawals

Syrian government forces look set to recover a strategic town that has been in rebel hands since 2014 in a major Russian-backed offensive into the opposition’s last major stronghold.

An organisation that monitors the war and a pro-Damascus military source said insurgents had withdrawn from Khan Sheikhoun overnight, though the main insurgent group in the area said rebels still held part of the town and fighting continued.

Capturing Khan Sheikhoun would be an important gain for President Bashar al-Assad into the northwestern region where his bid to recover “every inch” of Syria has run into complications including Turkish forces on the ground.

Syrian state media, in a broadcast from near the town, reported that government forces had widened their control including by seizing a highway running through Khan Sheikhoun, which was targeted in a sarin poison gas attack in 2017.

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