Thousands fleeing to Turkish border following latest attacks in Syria

Tens of thousands of Syrians have been heading towards the Turkish border in the last few days as the Russia-backed forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad advanced into Idlib province, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The crowd was reported to be leaving Maarat al-Numan, a sanctuary for families who had previously fled former rebel areas since the Russian-led Syrian forces were allegedly about to seize a strategic town, Khan Sheikhoun, located in further south. 

The flow of vehicles leaving the city was not stopping, Abdullah Younis, a resident told Reuters.

According to rescuers in the region, around 60,000 Syrians had fled Maarat al-Numan in the last four days alone.

The residents said Russian and Syrian jets have intensified attacks on scattered villages and towns around the city, striking the al-Rahma Hospital on Tuesday.

Analysts say the seizure of Khan Sheikhoun would be an important step for the al-Assad regime and its ally, Russia, in the north-western Syria region, turning the tide in the eight-year civil war.

The intensified Russian raids in the last 10 days have been seemingly transforming the situation on the ground.

The latest advance of the two allies has been allegedly reinforced by thousands of Iranian-backed militias as well.

On Monday, the Syrian army attacked a Turkish convoy heading towards a military observation post near Khan Sheikhoun, killing three civilians and injuring another 12.

Turkey currently maintains 12 observation points around the rebel-held province. Syrian forces had previously targeted Turkish army outposts in the region, accusing Turkey of backing the rebels.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that the observation point near the struck area would not be moved anywhere else.

The posts were set up in the context of the Sochi agreements between Russia and Turkey signed in September to preserve a cease-fire in Idlib with the withdrawal of heavy arms and radicals from the region.

Moscow and Tehran support the al-Assad regime while Ankara has been backing some rebel fighters.

At least 450,000 people have been driven from their homes due to the violence since April when the fighting broke out in the area, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 843 civilians, including 196 children, have been killed since April.

Turkey vows to maintain military post attacked by Syria

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