The Latest: Russia to help rebuild NW town retaken by Syria
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the situation in Syria (all times local):
The Russian military says it will help reconstruction efforts in a town in northwestern Syria that has been reclaimed by the Syrian government.
Maj. Gen. Ravil Muginov said in remarks released by the Russian Defense Ministry Tuesday that the military’s Reconciliation Center has delivered humanitarian supplies to Khan Sheikhoun, which was captured by the Syrian army last week. Muginov said the Russian military will help Syrian authorities rebuild the town’s infrastructure.
Syrian government forces have captured wide areas from insurgents over the past weeks, including all rebel-held parts of Hama province and areas on the southern edge of Idlib, the last remaining rebel stronghold in Syria.
Khan Sheikhoun sits on the highway linking Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, and Syrian government forces have sought to open that highway.
The Kurdish-led regional administration in northern Syria says the main U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia has begun withdrawing its fighters from a town near Turkey’s border.
The withdrawal is part of a deal for a so-called safe zone in northeastern Syria involving the U.S. and Turkey.
The administration said Tuesday that “the first step” in these understandings began three days ago in Ras al-Ayn, from where members of the militia known as YPG withdrew with their heavy weapons.
It says the Kurdish militia positions were taken over by local forces, without elaborating.
Turkey has been pressing for a safe zone, running east of the Euphrates River toward the Iraqi border, to push U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish militias away from its frontier.
Syrian opposition activists say insurgents have launched counterattacks in areas recently taken by government forces in the country’s last remaining rebel region in northwestern Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the attacks began on Tuesday morning and that government forces called in Syria’s air force to repel them.
The Ibaa media outlet of the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militant group said its fighters are attacking Syrian positions east of Khan Sheikhoun, a major town that was held by rebels until they lost it last week.
Syrian government forces captured wide areas from insurgents over the past weeks in an offensive that began on April 30.
Taher al-Omar, a citizen journalist with the al-Qaida-linked militants, says they have carried out several suicide attacks so far.