(Photo Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)
On 6 November, Russian fighter jets launched a new series of air strikes, targeting the positions of the hardline group of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) northwest of the country.
Units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) also took part in the early morning shelling, using artillery and multiple rocket launchers against the HTS in the last opposition-held stronghold of the Idlib governorate.
HTS (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and other less influential opposition factions control about half of Idlib and limited areas adjacent to the Hama, Aleppo, and Latakia governorates.
According to Al-Mayadeen, the joint shelling targeted a gathering of HTS militants. The militants were taking part in street fighting training as part of a preparatory course for rookies so that they could graduate from one of the HTS camps in the town of Kafr Jalis in Idlib.
Yesterday, the Latakia-based Reconciliation Center affiliated with the Russian Defense Ministry revealed a plan by several extremist groups, including the HTS and the Turkistan Islamic Party, to bomb the Hmeimim Air Base in Latakia using combat drones. The same base was subjected to previous attacks launched from Idlib.
The head of the Center in Syria, Major General Oleg Yegorov, said, “The militants of the two terrorist groups, the Al-Nusra Front and the Turkistan Islamic Party, are preparing to launch an attack on the Hmeimim Air Base, using attack drones and suicide drones.”
He pointed out that “the militants have finished preparing a large number of drones operating within a radius of up to 70 km in workshops in Idlib’s Khirbet al-Jouz area.”
Similarly, in October, Russian warplanes carried out five airstrikes on the outskirts of Kfarjana town in the Afrin countryside, which is currently under the control of the Turkish-sponsored Syrian National Army (SNA) factions.
In March 2020, a ceasefire took effect in Idlib, announced by Moscow, and Turkey – which supports the opposition factions – after a massive attack by government forces, during which they managed to regain control over half of the governorate.
Since then, mutual bombardment by opposition factions and raids by the SAA and Russia are occurring on a daily basis, although the ceasefire is still essentially in place.
Syria has been witnessing a bloody conflict since 2011 that killed nearly half a million, caused massive destruction to infrastructure and productive sectors, and displaced millions inside and outside the war-torn country.