Syrian troops push into last rebel area, hit civilian sites

Turkish backed Syrian fighters fire a howitzer near the village of Neirab, in Idlib province, Syria, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed)

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces have captured dozens of villages, including major rebel strongholds, over the past few days in the last opposition-held area in the country’s northwest. Intense shelling and airstrikes on Wednesday killed at least three more people. The new push by Russian-backed Syrian troops could worsen the humanitarian crisis that has displaced nearly a million people and left more than 300 civilians dead since the beginning of December. The violence came as a Russian delegation was scheduled to arrive in Turkey later in the day to resume talks aimed at easing tensions in the region.