Militant attacks kill 22 government troops in north Syria
BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida-linked militants launched attacks early Saturday on government forces positions in northern Syria killing and wounding dozens in the latest violation of a seven-month truce in the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
The al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahir al-Sham, or HTS, said the attacks occurred at dawn in the northern province of Aleppo.
The area of the attack is part of a seven-month truce reached between Turkey and Russia but has recently been repeatedly violated.
The HTS-linked Ibaa news agency said the attacks killed more than 20 soldiers. It added that the attacks were in retaliation for the bombardment by the Syrian and Russian militaries of rebel-held area in recent days.
The opposition’s Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said 22 pro-government gunmen were killed in the attack and more than two dozen wounded. It added that eight insurgents were also killed.
The Observatory and other opposition activists reported airstrikes by Russian warplanes on rebel-held areas in Idlib province and nearby areas.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, said Russian airstrikes and Syrian bombardments have killed 14 civilians and wounded dozens others since Friday afternoon. It said the airstrikes targeted areas in Idlib and nearby Hama province.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said rebels shelled the northern government-held village of Hader killing two civilians and wounding others.
Saturday’s violence came a day after Russia, Turkey and Iran ended a new round of talks in the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan with the Syrian government and the opposition on steps to bring peace to the country without making progress.