Russia says 45 HTS fighters killed during airstrikes in northern Syria
The Turkish-backed armed group has been in control of Idlib since at least 2013
By News Desk - September 19 2022

(Photo Credit: AP)

Russian Aerospace Forces launched several airstrikes pummeling positions of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formally known as Jabhat al-Nusra, in the last major opposition bastion of Idlib, killing 45 militants of the organization, including leaders.

“On 17 September, the Russian Air Force launched a mass air strike on Jabhat al-Nusra base in Sheikh Yousef town in Idlib province, killing 45 militants,” Deputy Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation Oleg Yegorov said.

According to the statement, a weapons warehouse and two military equipment depots were destroyed in the air raids. More than 45 militants, including field commanders Bilal Saeed and Abu Dujana al-Diri, were eliminated.

“The eliminated extremists are directly involved in attacks on the Syrian military and civilians in the de-escalation zone in Idlib, as well as in preparing for sabotage and terrorist acts in the territories controlled by the Syrian government.” The Russian center claimed.

The statement also indicated that HTS had previously launched at least five rockets on the Syrian army-held territories in southeastern Idlib, three attacks in Aleppo, and two others in rural Latakia.

On 12 September, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria registered three bombings carried out by the foreign-backed hardline group in Syria’s Idlib.

The last pocket of the anti-Assad opposition includes large swathes of the Idlib province and parts of the neighboring Aleppo, Hama, as well as Latakia governorates.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, spearheaded by ex-members of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda franchise, is the predominant group in the region. Other armed groups are also active, with varying degrees of Turkish support.

Two years ago, a deal brokered between Russia and Turkey ended the fighting between the government troops and opposition factions.

The Russian direct assistance, which began in September of 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, has proven influential as Syria has managed to regain control over vital areas across the country, from the ISIS terrorist group and other foreign-backed factions.

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