By Associated Press - Wednesday, August 28, 2019

BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian government warplanes struck towns and villages Wednesday in the northwestern province of Idlib, including one near a Turkish observation post, opposition activists said.

The intense airstrikes came a day after insurgents launched counterattacks on the edges of Idlib, near areas that were recently captured by government forces.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes targeted the town of Maaret al-Numan and villages near it, with one hitting close to one of Turkey’s 12 observation posts in Idlib.

The Syrian Civil Defense said another airstrike hit a market in the town of Sarqeb, wounding eight people.

A government offensive that began on April 30 has killed more than 2,000 people and displaced half a million. Many have fled further north toward the border with Turkey.

Maaret al-Numan and Sarqeb are among the main towns in Idlib that sit on the highway that links the capital of Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest. Syrian troops captured last week the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which also sits on the highway.

Government forces are trying to eventually open the highway in what would cut the trip between the country’s two largest cities by two hours as drivers now have to take a longer and narrower desert road.

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