Syrian government troops have successfully foiled an offensive by members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, Takfiri terrorist group in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib, as they continue to seize back more areas in the embattled territory from extremists.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that the militants used tanks and heavy vehicles to attack a position of Syrian army soldiers on the outskirts of Ejaz villages, which lies in the Maarrat al-Nu'man district of the province, triggering violent clashes.
The report added that Syrian government forces well managed to repel the attack, inflicting losses on the Takfiris’ military ranks and hardware.
SANA further noted that two of the terrorists’ military vehicles were destroyed in the process.
On August 5, the Syrian army declared in a statement the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.
“Even though the Syrian Arab Army declared a ceasefire in the de-escalation zone of Idlib on August 1, armed terrorist groups, backed by Turkey, refused to abide by the ceasefire and launched many attacks on civilians in surrounding areas,” SANA cited a statement released by the General Command of the Army and Armed Forces.
“The Turkish regime’s persistence in allowing its terrorist pawns in Idlib to carry out attacks proves that Ankara is maintaining its destructive approach and is ignoring its commitments as per the Sochi agreement. This has emboldened terrorists to fortify their positions and led to the spread of the threat of terrorism across the Syrian territory,” the statement added, referring to the Russian city where the truce deal was agreed.
Under the Sochi agreement, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib and also parts of the provinces of Aleppo and Hama were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 last year, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw two days earlier.
The National Front for the Liberation of Syria is the main Turkish-backed militant alliance in Idlib region, but the Takfiri Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits largely composed of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, holds a large part of the province and the zone.
The HTS, which is said to be in control of some 60 percent of Idlib, has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.
Turkish troops, Syrian proxies abduct civilians in Hasakah
Elsewhere in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, Turksih military forces and their allied militants have reportedly abducted a group of young people near Assadiya village, south of the border town of Ra’s al-Ayn, as they were working on farming land.
SANA reported that Turkish-backed militants have also assaulted local residents in the villages of al-Jakimeh, Hammamat and Abaha to force them to evacuate their homes, so that their families can accommodate there.
Syria’s official news agency went on to say that a number of families from the villages have been displaced under pressure and arbitrary practices being exercised against them by the extremists.
On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push militants from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled "safe zone" in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.
The announcement was made hours before a US-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.