- Eight fighters died Monday in Russian air strikes targeting a rebel base in Syria.
- Several other fighters were wounded in the strikes, with some in critical condition.
- Moscow’s intervention since 2015 has helped Damascus claw back much of the territory it had lost to rebel forces early in the 12-year civil war.
Eight fighters died Monday in Russian air strikes targeting a rebel base in Syria’s northwest, the last major bastion of armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, a war monitor said.
Moscow’s intervention since 2015 has helped Damascus claw back much of the territory it had lost to rebel forces early in the 12-year civil war, and Russian forces have repeatedly struck the Idlib area.
Early Monday, “Russian warplanes carried out air strikes on the western outskirts of Idlib city, targeting a military base belonging to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)… killing at least eight fighters,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Several other fighters were wounded in the strikes, with some in critical condition, said the Britain-based monitor which relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria.
Jihadist group HTS, led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls swathes of Idlib province, as well as parts of the adjacent Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.
An AFP correspondent said the jihadist group cordoned off the area after the strikes, which came shortly after midnight.
HTS regularly carries out deadly attacks on soldiers and pro-government forces.
On Monday, the Syrian defence ministry said its forces had downed “three drones laden with explosives” operated by “terrorist organisations”.
The Observatory said the army shot down three reconnaissance drones in Idlib and Hama provinces.
Syria’s war broke out in 2011 after the Assad government’s repression of peaceful demonstrations escalated into a deadly conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global jihadists.
Russian and Iranian support have helped to turn the tide in the regime’s favour.
The war has killed more than half a million people and forced around half of Syria’s pre-war population from their homes.
On 5 August, three family members, all civilians, were killed when Russian warplanes struck the outskirts of Idlib city, the Observatory said at the time.
On 25 June, Russian air strikes killed at least 13 people including nine civilians in Idlib province, in what the Observatory said was the deadliest such attack on the country this year.
A member of the Turkistan Islamic Party, a Uyghur-dominated jihadist group, was among the four fighters killed in those strikes, which also wounded at least 30 civilians, the monitor had said.
The rebel-held Idlib region is home to about three million people, around half of them displaced from other parts of the country.
Since 2020, a ceasefire deal brokered by Damascus ally Russia and rebel-backer Turkey has largely held in Syria’s northwest, despite periodic clashes.