MOSCOW, August 19. /TASS/. Damascus considers Ankara’s military assistance provided to terrorists from the Jabhat al-Nusra group (outlawed in Russia) besieged by government forces in the city of Khan Shaykhun as undisguised interference in in the country’s domestic affairs, SANA news agency quotes the Syrian Foreign Ministry as saying.
"Syria views the Turkish military convoy loaded with weapons and ammunition for militants dispatched to the Idlib province as an encroachment on its national sovereignty," the ministry stressed. It noted that the military vehicles had crossed the border and were heading towards the city of Khan Shaykhun to provide assistance to the remaining Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists.
According to the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Damascus holds Ankara fully responsible for these aggressive actions and violation of international law. The transfer of weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra in Idlib testifies to Turkey’s "unlimited support to terrorist groups" in Syria, the ministry said.
Battle of Khan Shaykhun
Al-Mayadeen television earlier reported that the Syrian army entered the city of Khan Shaykhun on Sunday after fierce fighting with terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra and Jaysh al-Izza extremist groups. According to the TV network, the advancing troops are currently some 500 meters away from the Damascus-Aleppo highway. The armed forces’ command tasked Syrian military servicemen with regaining control of a section of that strategic highway running through the Idlib province.
Terrorists captured Khan Shaykhun in 2014. When militants derailed yet another ceasefire in the de-escalation zone on August 5, the Syrian command said it was resuming a military operation against terrorists in the Idlib province.
On August 11, Syrian troops re-captured the inhabited communities of al-Hobeit and Sukeyk, which made it possible to begin encircling a terrorist exclave in Khan Shaykhun. On Sunday, militants were driven out of Kfar Aydun heights, which determined the outcome of the battle in favor of Syrian troops.
According to Al-Watan newspaper, during the operation in southern Idlib, government forces captured 18 settlements, wiping out 1,257 terrorists, including 400 foreign mercenaries. The Syrian army disabled more than 30 tanks, 19 armored vehicles and 169 off-road vehicles.