Khan Shaykhun siezed
The Syrian Army has taken full control of Khan Shaykhun, a strategic town in northwestern Syria and one of the last strongholds of foreign-backed terrorists, for the first time since 2014, a war monitor confirmed.
The government forces took the helm yesterday, surrounding Turkish forces at a nearby observation post, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced.
Syrian "forces took full control of the town of Khan Shaykhun and are currently clearing it of mines," the war monitor’s chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
He said fighters allied with the Syrian army have now "surrounded an area stretching from the south of Khan Shaykhun into northern Hama province, cutting off all roads out" for Turkish troops in the nearby town of Morek.
According to the Observatory, 21 anti-government militants, including 18 Takfiri terrorists were killed in Wednesday's clashes, along with 10 army troops or allied fighters.
The victory came after several days of heavy clashes between the Army and the Takfiri terrorists who control the Idlib region, which sits on the Turkish border and is the last major stronghold of anti-government militants.
Khan Shaykhun is believed to be the main extremist stronghold in Idlib. It also has a strategic significance because of the road connecting Damascus and Aleppo.
Since January, the region has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group, which is led by Takfiris from Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Earlier on Tuesday, many of the anti-government militants withdrew from Khan Shaykhun as well as their last bastion in the nearby province of Hama, as government forces made more gains in the northwest, the UK-based Observatory said.
The withdrawal came after Syrian army troops and their allied fighters managed to enter Khan Shaykhun, which had been occupied by foreign-backed terrorists since 2014.
State Duma deputy Dmitry Sablin said on the phone from Damascus after he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that "according to al-Assad, the Syrian army is advancing towards the strategic city of Khan Shaykhun." "Militants are fleeing to Turkey," Interfax cited Sablin as saying.
Head of the Friendship and business cooperation with Arab countries society Vyacheslav Matuzov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the return of Khan Shaykhun to Damascus’s control was inevitable. “The city has been surrounded for quite some time, all the militants should have left it, especially since a corridor in the direction of Idlib was opened for them. In fact, when the Turkish negotiations with the leaders of these groups failed, the Syrian army seized the city with the support of Russian aviation," he drew attention.
"The main problem now is the U.S. occupation of the eastern bank of the Euphrates River and their support for Kurdish militias - due to this even Turkey has to negotiate with the United States over the Syrian territories. I think this topic will be discussed at the upcoming meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani, scheduled for September 10-11. The meeting of the Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents will determine the further parameters of the Syrian process in Idlib and the eastern bank of the Euphrates. But we can already say that the war in Syria will be completed only when the U.S. troops, as well as all other foreign troops that do not have legal status, leave these lands, "Vladimir Matuzov emphasized.
"Americans now control about a third of Syria - the entire Jazira Region with the most fertile agricultural land and richest oil fields of the Euphrates Valley. By holding this region, the United States is very seriously hindering the restoration of the Syrian economy," the head of the Friendship and business cooperation with Arab countries society said.
“I believe that the issue of U.S. policy in Syria, as well as in the Middle East as a whole, is on the agenda of Putin-Trump talks, but so far Washington doesn't show any desire to begin a serious dialogue with Moscow on regional issues. I believe that sooner or later the U.S. will be forced to leave Syrian territories, because the Americans clearly will not be able to maintain the Kurdish structures opposed by Turkey and have good relations with Turkey at the same time," Vyacheslav Matuzov expressed confidence.
As for the fight against terrorist organizations, this process is almost complete in Syria. "It is necessary to completely separate terrorists from non-terrorists, and this task must be jointly addressed by Damascus, Ankara and Moscow," the expert concluded.