Syrian troops continue push into jihadist stronghold of Idlib province
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Syrian troops captured the town of Qalaat al-Madiq on Thursday as they continued a push into a remaining rebel-held enclave located in Idlib province. The UN Security Council will hold a closed-door meeting on escalating violence in Syria on Friday.
The Syrian government has captured the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in northwest Syria, some of its residents and a war monitor said on Thursday, as it pushed into the biggest remaining rebel territory under a massive bombardment.
Syria’s army, backed by Russian air power, launched ground operations this week against the southern flank of the rebel zone consisting of Idlib and parts of adjacent provinces.
The area is nominally protected by a Russian-Turkish deal agreed last year to avert a major new battle. The latest wave of fighting that began last week is the most serious challenge yet to the cease-fire brokered in September.
Intense bombardment caused the jihadists and Islamist rebels to flee, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. "Rockets have been fired on the Hmeimim airbase" from the area around the town, said the Observatory’s head, Rami Abdel Rahman.
The recapture of Qalaat al-Madiq comes after government forces retook the nearby town of Kafr Nabouda on Wednesday, pro-government newspaper Al-Watan and the Observatory said.
The UN Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the escalation of fighting in Syria's northwestern region of Idlib, where hospitals and schools have been hit by strikes, diplomats said.
Air attacks and the shelling of schools and hospitals amount to "an unacceptable violation of international law", EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Wednesday.
Belgium, Germany and Kuwait requested the Security Council meeting, which will be held behind closed doors at 10am (2pm GMT) on Friday.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS and AP)