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By Suleiman Al-Khalidi BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian army advanced toward the Turkish border on Monday in a major offensive backed by Russia and Iran that rebels say now threatens the future of their nearly five-year-old insurrection against President Bashar al-Assad. "They are advancing and we are pulling back because in the face of such heavy aerial bombing we must minimize our losses." The Syrian military and its allies were almost five km (3 miles) from the rebel-held town of Tal Rafaat, which has brought them to around 25 km (16 miles) from the Turkish border, the rebels, a residents and a conflict monitor said. The assault around the city of Aleppo in northern Syria has prompted tens of thousands to flee toward Turkey, which is already sheltering more than 2.5 million Syrians, the world's largest refugee population.