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72 dead as Syria army tries to free troops from Takfiri militants

Over 70 fighters have been killed during a single day of clashes between Takfiri militants and Syrian troops trying to free some 250 besieged soldiers and their families, a monitoring group says.

At least 40 militants and 32 Syrian government troops were killed during violent clashes in a hospital complex where the troops and civilians are holed up in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur since two weeks ago, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.

The clashes broke out early Sunday as the relief column battled its way to about only two kilometers from the hospital and lasted until early Monday when the Takfiris were pushed back.

On May 10, the terrorists started a fresh assault on the National Hospital, following two bomb attacks which destroyed the hospital’s right wing.

During the assault, the militants entered one of the hospitals buildings but were forced to retreat after the military carried out 22 airstrikes around the complex.

According to observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, 150 government forces, including “high-ranking officers,” and their families and a few civil servants, are among those pinned down in the complex.

The militants suffered heavy losses as Syrian troops took control of the al-Mushrifah, Tal Qintar, and Tal Qartel regions which overlook Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province.

“All axes leading to Jisr al-Shughur city are now within the range of the army’s artillery following intensive operations against dens and gatherings of terrorist organizations,” al-Manar TV network quoted a military source as saying.

Last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed that the army would “arrive soon to these heroes trapped in the Jisr al-Shughur hospital.”

On April 25, a group of militants, including al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front, overran Jisr al-Shughur after they seized the provincial capital, Idlib,

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting militants operating inside the country.

More than 220,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced so far due to the crisis in the country.

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