On August 3, fighters from the Syrian National Defense Forces (NDF) in the Shiite towns of Nubl and al-Zahraa in the northern Aleppo countryside targeted a minibus carrying militants of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) on the nearby mountain of Shiek Aqeel with an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).
The ATGM strike claimed the lives of four militants of HTS and wounded at least eight others. The death toll from the strike could raise as five of the wounded are reportedly in a critical condition.
The deadly strike was a response a recent attack which saw militants from the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) targeting a bus carrying from Nubl and al-Zahraa near the town of Anjara in the northern Aleppo countryside with an ATGM. The attack, which took place on May 13, claimed the lives of 11 fighters and wounded nine others. Later on the same day, a child was killed when the funeral of the fighters was shelled by the NFL and HTS.
This was not the first response to the May 13 attack. On June 29, nine militants of the NFL were killed and two others were wounded when an ATGM fired by NDF fighters in Nubl and al-Zahraa struck a bus that was carrying them near the town of Bosoufane in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
HTS is the de-facto ruler of the northwestern region of Greater Idlib, which includes parts of the western and northern Aleppo countryside. The NFL is Turkey’s largest proxy in Greater Idlib. Both factions violated the ceasefire in the region on countless occasions this year.
NDF fighters in Nubul and Zahraa, who receive much support from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, warned the militants of HTS, the NFL and other rebel groups that the May attack will not go unpunished. The deadly strike today was not likely the last episode of their revenge campaign.
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