Syria offensive has displaced close to 700,000 since December: UN

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A Russia-backed regime offensive on the last major rebel bastion in northwestern Syria has displaced close to 700,000 people since December, the United Nations told AFP on Monday.

The violence in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo has displaced 689,000 people, said David Swanson, spokesman for the United Nation's humanitarian coordination office, OCHA.

The Assad's Syrian Arab Army (SSA) announced on Sunday it had recaptured more than 600 square kilometers of territory so far in its campaign in Idlib province.

The Idlib region is home to around three million people, half of whom were evacuated by regime forces from other parts of the country after forces beseigned cities controlled by the opposition and bombarded them with airstrikes. The Syrian army has taken control of dozens of towns and villages in recent days as part of the campaign, a statement from the armed forces said.

The Russian backed Syrian regime has been bombarding the area around the strategic city of Saraqib, Idlib, which is the intersection of two major highways between the capital Damascus and second city Aleppo.

The clashes have also strained relations between Russia, which backs the regime, and Turkey, which supports opposition groups in the area.

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