20 Aug 2019 13:31

Syrian army advancing towards Khan Sheikhun, militants fleeing to Turkey - MP Sablin after meeting with al-Assad

MOSCOW. Aug 20 (Interfax) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says that the Syrian army has reached the vicinity of Khan Sheikhun in the Idlib province, State Duma deputy Dmitry Sablin told the press on Tuesday.

"According to al-Assad, the Syrian army is advancing towards the strategic city of Khan Sheikhun. [...] Militants are fleeing to Turkey," Sablin said on the phone from Damascus after he met with al-Assad.

Sablin, conveying al-Assad's assessment of the situation, said that "the military-political situation has changed for the better since the previous meeting."

The EFE news agency, citing sources in the Syrian military command, said that Syrian government forces had taken over 60% of Khan Sheikhun by Tuesday morning. According to the sources, clashes continue in the city, although some extremists have withdrawn from their positions.

Fighting between militants and government forces in Khan Sheikhun was reported on Monday. The city is believed to be the main extremist stronghold in Idlib. It also has a strategic significance because of the road connecting Damascus and Aleppo.