Syrian rebels killed 10 pro-regime fighters in northern Syria today in the deadliest attack since a ceasefire was reached more than two years ago, a war observer said.
It was not immediately clear whether the attack was carried out by the area’s dominant jihadist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), or other rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The attackers fired an anti-tank guided missile at a bus transporting pro-regime fighters to their home village, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory, told AFP.
He said six rebel fighters had been killed this month in similar attacks carried out by regime soldiers or allied militias.
Today’s death toll was the heaviest reported in pro-government ranks from a rebel attack since a ceasefire agreement brokered by major foreign powers Russia and Turkey in March 2020.
Before Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime controlled barely a fifth of the national territory.
With Russian and Iranian support, Damascus has regained much of the ground lost in the early stages of the conflict, which erupted in 2011 when the government brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests.
The latest group of armed opposition to the regime includes large parts of Idlib province and parts of neighboring Aleppo, Hama and Latakia provinces.
HTS, led by ex-members of Syria’s former al-Qaeda franchise, is the dominant group in the area, but other rebel groups are also active, with varying degrees of Turkish support.
The 2020 ceasefire agreement has been kept despite sporadic attacks by both sides, including ongoing Russian airstrikes.
Turkey wanted to cement its influence in northern Syria and avert a new phase of fighting in the conflict that could have sparked an unprecedented wave of refugees flooding its border.
Turkey is home to more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, faced with mounting public anger over the issue, has suggested his government would encourage a million of them to return.
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