Turkish convoy attacked in Syria, three civilians killed: Defense ministry

Map of territorial control in northern Hama  southern Idlib provinces as of Monday morning

Map of territorial control in northern Hama southern Idlib provinces as of Monday morning

Turkey has said a Syrian government air strike on a Turkish military convoy in northwest Syria has killed three civilians and wounded 12 as Syrian troops advanced on rebels in a key town.

The Damascus regime denounced the convoy's crossing over from Turkey. Syria, however, said the Turkish convoy was carrying ammunition to rebels who have lost ground this month amid a government offensive to retake their last stronghold in the country.

The Idlib region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal signed between government ally Russian Federation and rebel backer Turkey in September.

Jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, carried out several suicide bombings to slow the advance of regime troops, Abdel Rahman added.

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On August 5, the Syrian army declared in a statement the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russian Federation and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.

The Russian government had been supplied with "advance information" about the convoy's route, the ministry said.

Ankara said the attack violated the agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran, which paved the way to a relative de-escalation in the protracted war in Syria, the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported.

The report said the convoy could not proceed because the route between Maaret al Numan and Khan Sheikhoun was targeted, and sheltered at a safe location.

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An official at the Syrian Foreign and Expatriates Ministry told SANA that the Turkish convoy was on its way "to help the defeated terrorists of Jabhat al-Nusra which is on the lists of the Security Council as a terrorist organization, which affirms again the continued unlimited support provided by the Turkish regime to the terrorist groups".

Syrian government troops reached the western outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun earlier in the day. The pro-government Al-Watan online and the Observatory reported that Syrian troops have entered Khan Sheikhoun from the northwest.

The de-escalation zone is now inhabited by about four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the regime forces from cities and towns throughout the war-weary country in recent years.

More than two dozen civilians have been killed during the weekend's escalation of the government offensive against militants and allied rebels in the last major opposition stronghold in Syria.

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The town was the scene of a chemical attack on April 4, 2017 that killed 89 people.

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