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Syrian rebels retake key area from govt. forces

Rebels captured a key area in central Syria from government forces, who then retaliated by unleashing deadly airstrikes on an opposition enclave, a war monitor and activists said.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that rebels had retaken on Wednesday full control of the village of Kfar Naboudeh in a rural area of the central province of Hama.

Ahmed Sheikho of the White Helmets rescue team told dpa that government jets mounted retaliatory strikes at the rebel city of Maaret al-Nouman in Idlib province, killing no fewer than nine people and injuring 20 others.

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On Tuesday, rebels from the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham launched what local activists called a “fierce, wide-scale offensive’’ on Kfar Naboudeh, using tanks and heavy artillery.

The Britain-based Observatory said the heavy fighting had killed no fewer than 29 government soldiers as well as 23 rebels in the last 15 hours.

On April, forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supported by Russian air power, initiated a massive campaign against rebels in Hama and Idlib, the last major opposition stronghold in Syria.

“Al-Assad’s forces have since seized 16 towns and villages in the enclave from the rebels,’’ the watchdog reported.

The latest escalation in war-torn Syria has displaced thousands of people and raised fears that a truce of almost eight months in the Idlib enclave will crumble. (NAN)