Clashes kill more than 80 fighters in northwest Syria
More than 80 fighters were killed in clashes Thursday between regime and jihadist-led forces in northwest Syria, as violence raged on the edge of an opposition bastion despite a September truce deal.
In nearby Afrin, a car bombing killed 13 people in the latest violence to hit the city that Turkey-backed rebels seized last year from Kurdish fighters.
Syria’s civil war has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and spiralled into a complex conflict since starting in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.
Russian and regime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the Idlib region of some three million people in northwest Syria, despite a deal to avert a massive government assault.
Regime forces have also been locked in battle with jihadists and allied rebels on the edges of the bastion held by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), including the north of Hama province.
Clashes raged Thursday in northern Hama after a small advance by jihadist-led forces overnight, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Fighting and bombardment since the launch of the attack late Wednesday killed at least 46 regime forces and 36 jihadists and allied rebels, the Britain-based war monitor said.
“The fighting is ongoing as regime planes and artillery pound the area,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
HTS spokesman Abu Khaled al-Shami said the jihadist and rebel fighters attacked after dark, taking control of the village of Hamameyat and a hilltop.
In air raids Thursday, a civilian was killed in a Russian strike on the Idlib town of Latamneh, the Observatory said, while rebel shelling cost the life of a woman in regime-held outside the jihadist stronghold.