Syria opens 'humanitarian corridor' for civilians to leave Idlib

Syria opens 'humanitarian corridor' for civilians to leave Idlib

Syria has said it is opening a corridor for civilians to leave the rebel-held northwestern region of Idlib, where an intense bombardment by government forces has killed hundreds of people since April.

The ministry said the corridor was opened in the village of Soran, on the southern edge of the rebel-held area that has been under siege by Syrian troops since Wednesday.

The withdrawal from Khan Sheikhoun, one of the northwestern province's largest towns that has been in rebel hands since 2014, came after days of fierce fighting between rebel factions and Russia-backed forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey's state-run news agency said a Turkish observation post, north of Khan Sheikhoun, came under "harassing fire" by Syrian government jets Thursday.

Souran, located in Hama's northern countryside, is considered the first line of defence for government forces stationed on the doorstep of the city of Hama.

The rapid advance by the Syrian army in the northwestern province marks a major blow for insurgents in their last remaining stronghold in Idlib, which has been subjected to a government offensive for the past three months. These people have escaped the regime. "These people have escaped the regime", he said.

Moscow and Damascus say they are responding to militant attacks by the former Nusra Front, a jihadist alliance now known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Under the deal, opposition groups in Idlib would remain in areas where they were already present, while Russian Federation and Turkey would carry out joint patrols in the area to prevent a resumption of fighting.

Syrian government forces marching from different directions in southern parts of the opposition-controlled province of Idlib met around sunset Wednesday, laying siege to several rebel-held towns and villages as well as a Turkish army post, a Syrian opposition war monitor and pro-government activists said.

The incident comes days after airstrikes targeted a Turkish army convoy heading toward another Turkish observation post, killing three civilians and wounding 12 others.

The Syrian Response Coordination Group, a relief group active in northwestern Syria, reported that almost 200,000 people have fled the violence over the past 10 days alone.

The entry of government forces into Khan Sheikhun raises the stakes between Syria and Turkey, which has troops deployed in the nearby town of Morek, which is now cut off.

Earlier, two Turkish officials told the Reuters news agency that Syrian government forces opened fire on one of Ankara's observation posts on Thursday, without specifying which of Turkey's 12 posts in northwest Syria - set up under an agreement with Russian Federation and Iran - was hit.

Related Articles