BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):
A news agency linked to the Islamic State group and a Syrian activist say airstrikes on an IS-held central region killed at least 20 people.
The Aamaq news agency says poison gas was used in the attack on the eastern side of the central province of Hama, killing 20 while 200 others suffered breathing problems.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 34 people, including 11 children and eight women, were killed in the attack.
Monday’s airstrikes on the Okeirbat region came a day after IS militants re-occupied Palmyra, taking the ancient central city from government troops.
In August, a report by an international team concluded that both the Syrian government and IS carried out chemical attacks in Syria during 2014 and 2015
A Syrian rebel spokesman says opposition fighters are retreating in eastern Aleppo under intense government fire that is putting thousands of civilians at risk.
Bassam Haj Mustafa, a senior member of the Nour el-Din el-Zinki group who is in contact with fighters inside the city, said Monday that the collapse of the rebel enclave is “terrifying.”
He says the fighters are doing “their best to defend what is left.”
The Syrian military says it has retaken 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, which the rebels seized in 2012. The opposition-run Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels still hold around 7 percent of eastern Aleppo.
Tens of thousands of civilians have fled to government-held western Aleppo since the offensive began earlier this month, but thousands remain trapped in the rebel stronghold.
Turkish media says the air force is pounding Islamic State targets in northern Syria and has dropped leaflets calling on residents to leave a militant stronghold there.
The private Dogan news agency said Monday the armed forces had dropped leaflets on al-Bab, the next target of a campaign by Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces.
The leaflets urge civilians to flee to secure areas, saying “God willing, victory is near.” They urge residents to “not let the Daesh terror, which serves the devil, exploit you,” referring to IS by an Arabic acronym.
Images of the Arabic and Turkish language pamphlets were also circulated on social media. There was no comment from the army.
The state-run Anadolu Agency says the military has hit more than 138 IS-related targets in northern Syria, including 29 in al-Bab and its vicinity.
Turkish troops and allied Syrian forces crossed into northern Syria earlier this year to drive IS and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces out of a strategic area along the border.
A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin says the unwillingness of the United States to work with Moscow in Syria contributed to the loss of the ancient city of Palmyra to the Islamic State group.
Dmitry Peskov told journalists Monday that “the U.S. does not want to cooperate,” adding that “cooperation would have probably allowed us to more effectively avoid such attacks from terrorists.”
Syrian troops aided by Russian airstrikes drove IS from Palmyra in March, but the militants stormed back into the city over the weekend, forcing the army to retreat despite a wave of Russian airstrikes.
The Syrian government and Russia had been focused on Aleppo, where they are close to defeating rebels that have held the eastern half of the northern city for four years.
Peskov said many of the IS fighters involved in the Palmyra assault had recently left the Iraqi city of Mosul, where U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have been waging a nearly two-month-old offensive against the militants.
Syria’s military says it has gained control of 98 percent of eastern Aleppo, leaving only a tiny enclave packed with rebels and civilians.
The military statement Monday said pro-government forces have seized control of al-Fardous, one of the largest neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, which has been held by the rebels since 2012.
Rami Abdurrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-run monitoring group, said the fighting is ongoing in the district.
Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes and militias from across the region launched a large-scale offensive on eastern Aleppo earlier this month and are on the verge of driving the rebels from the city. Doing so would hand President Bashar Assad his greatest victory yet in the 5 ½-year civil war.
Syria’s state media and an opposition monitoring group say that government troops and allied militias have seized a wide strip on the southern edge of Aleppo from rebels, closing in on tens of thousands of civilians squeezed into the center of the city.
State TV says the Syrian forces fully secured Sheikh Saeed neighborhood — an area interspersed with agricultural fields along the southern stretch of the rebel enclave — on Monday, after days of intense clashes.
The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights estimates the fall of Sheikh Saeed leaves rebels enclosed in a small area in central Aleppo that’s only 10 percent of what rebels used to control.
Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to be still trapped in that area, accessible only through government-monitored crossing points.
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