Sunday 25 February 2018

Syrian troops make more gains around Aleppo

The closed border crossing with Syria on the outskirts of the Turkish town of Kilis (AP)
The closed border crossing with Syria on the outskirts of the Turkish town of Kilis (AP)

Syrian army troops have recaptured another village north of Aleppo, bringing the forces closer to the Turkish border, according to the government and opposition activists .

State-run news agency SANA said army troops took control of the village of Kfeen in the northern countryside of Aleppo "after wiping out the last group of terrorists there".

Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV also reported Kfeen's capture and aired live footage from the village.

The government offensive around Aleppo has sent tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing towards the border with Turkey.

Turkish authorities say up to 35,000 Syrians have massed along the border, which remained closed for a fourth day on Sunday.

Turkey has come under mounting pressure to open its border to assist the fleeing Syrians, many of whom have been sleeping in cold weather in open fields near the Bab al-Salameh border crossing.

The Turkish deputy premier said Ankara has reached the end of its "capacity to absorb" refugees. The governor of the border province of Kilis said Turkey would provide aid to the displaced within Syria, but would only open the gates in the event of an "extraordinary crisis".

The army gains have allowed troops to almost fully encircle Aleppo, Syria's largest city and one-time commercial centre, preparing the way for a blockade. The main supply line to the Turkish border has already been cut and many residents of the city are looking to leave, anticipating severe shortages in coming days.

The army has been aided by massive Russian airpower and dozens of fighters from the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah group as well as Iranian fighters.

The capture of Kfeen took troops to about three miles from the town of Tel Rifaat, and 18 miles from the Turkish border - the closest reached by government forces since they lost Mannagh air base in mid- 2013.

Press Association

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