The Syrian military has taken control over the town of Khan Sheikhoun, and is now engaged in operations to clear the area of terrorist remnants, a field source has confirmed.
“At the moment, mopping up and demining operations are underway,” the source said.
A Sputnik correspondent became the first foreign reporter to enter Khan Sheikhoun on Thursday, confirming that the strategic town is now under the control of the Syrian military.
Syrian forces entered Khan Sheikhoun itself on Sunday following heavy fighting with al-Nusra* militants, and began bolstering its positions while advancing into the surrounding villages in the following days.
Earlier Thursday, Syria’s Foreign Ministry said a humanitarian corridor had been opened up in the village of Suran in northern Hama province, to enable any civilian residents in Idlib province who want to leave remaining terrorist-controlled territories to do so. The residents were promised food, shelter, and access to health care.
The Syrian military launched an offensive in Idlib province, now the last Syrian province partially under the control of anti-government militias and terrorist groups, earlier this month, due to militants’ failure to compliance with a ceasefire deal stipulating the withdrawal of medium and heavy weapons from the contact line, and regular attacks on Syrian army positions and civilian areas in neighbouring Hama province.
During the foreign-backed civil conflict in Syria, Khan Sheikhoun served as a major strategic strongpoint for anti-government militias and terrorist groups, particularly after al-Nusra militants took control of the town in 2014. In 2017, the militants occupying the town accused the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack against local civilians, prompting the Trump administration to launch cruise missile strikes against Syrian government targets in April of that year. Independent investigations later revealed that this ‘chemical attack’ was staged by the White Helmets ‘rescue group’ to give the US a pretext to attack Syria. A similar scenario was repeated in Douma, southern Syria, in April 2018.
Idlib province, in northwestern Syria is now the last major stronghold of terrorist militants in Syria, and is thought to contain tens of thousands of terrorist militia.
*The Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda; outlawed in Russia and many other countries.