Syrian regime gains ground in Idlib push taking key town

The most recent fighting, which cost the lives of more than 100 fighters over the weekend, took place in an area straddling Idlib and Hama provinces, a war monitor said, and claimed dozens of lives on both sides.

Regime forces seized the town of Al-Habeet, in Idlib’s southern countryside, at dawn,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.

The Idlib area has escaped the control of President Bashar Assad’s government since 2015 and is the last major bastion of opposition to his regime and its allies.

The monitoring group also reported two civilians killed, including a child, in regime and Russian airstrikes Sunday on the south of Idlib province.

The capture of Al-Habeet, one of several strategic targets for advancing pro-regime forces, came after another night of deadly fighting, the Observatory said.

According to the Britain-based monitor’s tally, 70 combatants were killed on Saturday alone, 32 of them pro-government forces.

The remaining 38 were from the opposing ranks of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the jihadist group led by members of al-Qaida’s former Syria franchise, and allied rebel fighters.

Rami Abdel Rahman said at least another 38 combatants, 14 of them government fighters, were killed in fighting on Sunday.

He described Al-Habeet as “the first town in southern Idlib to be taken by the regime since the start of the escalation” in April.

The town is seen as a stepping stone toward Khan Sheikhun, one of the main towns in Idlib and the target of some of the eight-year-old conflict’s deadliest airstrikes.