Syrian army recaptures key town from opposition in Idlib

The Syrian army says it has recaptured the strategic town of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province, the opposition’s last stronghold, the BBC reports.

State media reported that troops had “liberated” the town after inflicting heavy losses on jihadist fighters.

A monitoring group earlier said the opposition had withdrawn.

Maarat al-Numan straddles a major highway that has been an objective for the army as it has pressed ahead with an offensive in Idlib in recent weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians, the vast majority of them women and children, have fled the fighting and moved towards the border with Turkey, where they are struggling to cope in camps and makeshift shelters.

Syria’s army says it took control of Maarat al-Numan after heavy clashes with fighters from a jihadist alliance known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham that dominates opposition-held Idlib. The jihadists eventually withdrew to the north, towards Saraqeb and Ariha, it added.

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