Syrian forces approach the city of Khan Sheikhoun amid fierce battles (Observatory)

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Syrian regime forces on Sunday are only a kilometer from the town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib, where fierce battles are taking place with jihadist and militant factions, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Regime forces have been trying for days to advance towards the city of Khan Sheikhoun, the largest city of the southern countryside of Idlib, where a strategic highway linking Aleppo to Damascus, and analysts say that the regime forces want to complete control of it.

According to the Syrian Observatory, the regime forces “are now on the edge of the city of Khan Sheikhoun.”

“Fierce fighting is taking place between the warring factions and the jihadists on the one hand and the regime forces on the other hand, about one kilometer west of the city of Khan Sheikhoun,” Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP.

He pointed out that regime forces are also trying to advance from the eastern side of Khan Sheikhoun, but they face “violent resistance” from the factions.

The regime forces took control of the nearby village of Tal al-Nar on Sunday, three kilometers from the international highway Aleppo – Damascus, where part of the warring factions and jihadists control part of it passes from Idlib province.

The road is a vital artery linking the most prominent cities under the control of the regime forces from Aleppo north through Hama and Homs in the middle and then Damascus to the border crossing with Jordan.

Killed in the battles of Khan Sheikhoun since Saturday night, 26 fighters of the jihadi and fighter factions as well as 11 members of the regime forces, according to the observatory.

Since the end of April, areas in Idlib and parts of neighboring provinces, controlled by HTS (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and where other less influential opposition factions are deployed, have been bombed almost daily by the regime and its Russian ally.

After the fighting concentrated during the first three months in the northern countryside of Hama, the regime forces started on the eighth of this month to advance the field in the southern countryside of Idlib.

The escalation, according to an observatory toll, killed more than 860 civilians, as well as more than 1370 fighters from the factions and more than 1200 members of the regime forces and armed loyalists.

Also on Sunday, two civilians, including a child, were killed in a continuous aerial bombardment in southern Idlib.

The Idlib area and its environs have been covered by a Russian-Turkish agreement since September 2018, which established a demilitarized zone separating areas controlled by regime forces and factions. It also requires the withdrawal of the opposition factions of heavy and medium weapons and the withdrawal of jihadist groups from the region concerned. But it has not been implemented.

Syria has been plagued by a bloody conflict since its outbreak in 2011 that has killed more than 370,000 people and caused massive destruction of infrastructure, displacing more than half of the population inside and outside the country.

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