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After 5 yrs under jihadist control, militants flee Syrian town where 2017 ‘chemical attack’ occurred

After 5 yrs under jihadist control, militants flee Syrian town where 2017 ‘chemical attack’ occurred

Khan Sheikhoun, a town located on a key road leading to Idlib, the last militant-controlled province in Syria, is on the brink of returning to government control, as jihadist forces which controlled it for years withdraw.

The withdrawal has been preceded by heavy fighting near the town between forces loyal to Damascus and the extremists entrenched in Khan Sheikhoun. Since 2014 the town has been under the control of the Islamist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), previously known as Al Nusra Front, linked to Al-Qaeda.

The town made international headlines back in April 2017 when it allegedly witnessed a chemical attack, which the US and its allies quickly blamed on the Syrian government. Washington ordered a strike on the Syrian forces’ Shayrat air base within days after the alleged incident. A subsequent investigation by a joint investigative mechanism launched by the UN and an international chemical watchdog, the OPCW, was conducted remotely and was slammed by Russia as “unprofessional.”

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