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Russia, Syria Say Dozens Of Syrian Army Troops Killed, Wounded In Greater Idlib Clashes. What’s Going On?

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Russia, Syria Say Dozens Of Syrian Army Troops Killed, Wounded In Greater Idlib Clashes. What's Going On?

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The Russian and Syrian defense ministries released several reports about intense clashes between militants and the Syrian Army in southeastern Idlib and southwestern Aleppo.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is repelling a large-scale attack on its positions in the southeastern Idlib countryside, the Ministry of Defense of Syria claimed in an official statement released on January 23.

The ministry said that the attack, led by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), is targeting the towns of al-Tah, Abu Jurif and Samka.

“Through the use of various types of weapons, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs)، and under heavy fire cover, the terrorists managed to penetrate some positons of the army on the direction of al-Tah, Abu Hurif and Samka,” the statement reads.

According to the Syrian MoD, the SAA redeployed its troops to repel the terrorists’ attack. Heavy clashes are currently taking place in the region.

Russia, Syria Say Dozens Of Syrian Army Troops Killed, Wounded In Greater Idlib Clashes. What's Going On?

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Earlier on the same day, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria reported that about 600 militants attacked SAA positions on the contact line in Idlib and Aleppo provinces:

  • A group of up to 270 militants, supported by 38 armed pickups attacked Syrian Army positions near At-Tah, and Muaysirunah. A group of Wadi as-Saane in southeastern Idlib;
  • Up to 250 militants, supported by 2 BMP vehicles and 30 armed pickups attacked Syrian Army positions near Abu Dafn, Bars and Huan as-Shaf in southeastern Idlib;
  • Up to 50 militants, supported by 4 vehicles armed with weapons, attacked Syrian Army positions near Rashidin 4 and al-Jazirah near Aleppo city.

According to the Russian side, government forces eliminated up to 50 militants, and wounded up to 90 others. At the same time, nearly 40 Syrian troops were killed and up to 80 injured, the Center added.

Russia, Syria Say Dozens Of Syrian Army Troops Killed, Wounded In Greater Idlib Clashes. What's Going On?

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On January 22, the Russian military reported that the Syrian Army repelled an attack by militants on its positions near At Tah in southeastern Idlib. According to the report, the attack involved at least 30 militants with 3 vehicles equipped with weapons.

In a separate report, the Russian Reconciliation Center said that 46 Syrian service members have been killed and 77 were wounded in recent clashes with radical militants in Greater Idlib in the period from January 16 to January 19. According to the report, 57 civilians were killed and 116 others were injured as a result of attacks and shelling by militants.

These reports were not confirmed by any pro-government or pro-opposition sources. They didn’t report any large ground attack on SAA positions during the last 48 hours. HTS and its allies launched dozens of attacks from the region in the last few days. However, somehow attacks involving hundreds of militants and tens pieces of military equipment went unnoticed. One of the explanations is that they did not happen.

The motives behind the Syrian and Russian claims remain unclear. The two countries may be preparing public opinion for a large-scale ground operation in Greater Idlib, that has been repeatedly forecasted by pro-government sources. At the same time, these reports could be a part of the media operation designed to draw the audience’s attention from some other developments.

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