A fighters of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) elite unit, known as the “Red Band,” was killed and seven others were wounded in the recent Russian airstrikes on the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on October 7.
According to the London-based monitoring group, one of the airstrikes, which targeted the outskirts of the town of Bsanqul in the southern Idlib countryside, hit a headquarters of the Red Bands.
The Red Bands are HTS’ top special forces formation. The unit’s fighters are trained to carry out suicide attacks as well as behind-enemy-line operations.
During the 2019-2020 battle of Greater Idlib, many Red Band fighters were killed or wounded by the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) and the Syrian Arab Air Force before they could even reach the battlefield.
The VKS resumed its combat operation against HTS and its allies in Greater Idlib last August as a response to the repeated violations of the ceasefire in the region, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey last year.
Russian airstrikes inflicted heavy losses on HTS over the last few weeks. Yet, the terrorist group continues to challenge the ceasefire in Greater Idlib. This could force Russia and its allies to take more drastic measures, which may include a ground operation.
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