Dozens dead as Syrian army battles jihadists

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BEIRUT: Fighting between Syrian regime forces and Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists and their allies has left more than 70 dead south of the battleground city of Aleppo, a monitor said on Friday.

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Al-Nusra Front and allied Islamists seized Khan Tuman and surrounding villages after less than 24 hours of clashes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“At least 43 Al-Nusra and allied fighters, including a local commander, and 30 on the side of the regime and allied militia were killed in the battle,” said the British-based Observatory, which relies on a network of sources in Syria.

Pro-regime troops had driven the jihadists out of Khan Tuman, located about 10 kilometrers (six miles) southwest of Aleppo, in December.

“The recapture of the area and surrounding villages means that the regime’s lines of defence south of the country’s second city have been pushed back,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

A 48-hour truce in Aleppo between the regime and non-jihadist rebels appeared to be largely holding as it entered a second day on Friday.

AFP

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