Middle East

Syrian army makes strategic gain in north

A group of Syrian pro-government fighters walk in the village of Sheikh Ahmad near the Kweyris military air base, east of the Syrian province of Aleppo on November 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GEORGE OURFALIAN

DAMASCUS: The Syrian army, backed by Russian air strikes, captured a rebel stronghold in the northern province of Aleppo Sunday, driving out the Islamists, a monitoring group said.

State news agency SANA also said that army units and other pro-government forces had seized control of Khan Tuman and neighboring farms.

Khan Tuman was the scene of fierce clashes between loyalist forces, including fighters of Lebanon's Shiite militia Hezbollah, and Islamist rebels, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian and Russian aircraft carried out at least 40 strikes, it said.

The Britain-based monitoring group said 16 Islamists were killed but it did not have details of casualties on the pro-government sides.

The Syrian military has since mid-October recaptured several areas in the north of the country from Islamist forces, including Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch, Al-Nusra Front.

Government forces have been buoyed by Russian air strikes since September 30 in support of President Bashar Assad's government.





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