Seven extremists were killed Friday in bombardments by government forces in northern Syria, a war monitor said, amid escalating violence in the country’s last main opposition bastion.
“Seven fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham were killed in a double-bombardment by the regime” in Aleppo province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Terrorist group HTS, led by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate, controls swathes of Idlib province as well as parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia.
The Syrian army initially “targeted a HTS military vehicle” in the west of the province, said the Britain-based Observatory, which has a wide network of sources in Syria.
“When a second car arrived to recover the dead and wounded, the bombing began again,” increasing the casualties, the Observatory added.
The Idlib bastion has seen an escalation in violence in recent weeks, with increased Russian air strikes in response to drone attacks by HTS and affiliated fighters on government-controlled areas, according to the Observatory.
On Wednesday, the Syrian defense ministry said the army and Russian air force had “carried out several air and artillery strikes targeting terrorist headquarters in the countryside of Aleppo, Latakia and Hama” after “repeated attacks” on government-held parts of the provinces.
Also Wednesday, a Syrian army officer was killed and a civilian wounded in bombing by HTS and affiliated factions in Latakia province, said the Observatory.
On Tuesday, three HTS fighters and two civilians were killed in separate Russian strikes in different parts of Idlib province.
A day earlier, Russian air strikes targeted a HTS base on the western outskirts of Idlib city, killing 13 fighters, the Observatory reported at the time.
The opposition-held Idlib region is home to about three million people, around half of them displaced from elsewhere in Syria.
A ceasefire deal brokered by Russia and Turkey has largely held in Syria’s northwest since 2020, despite periodic clashes.
Syria’s war broke out in 2011 and has killed more than half a million people and forced around half of Syria’s pre-war population from their homes.