On October 23, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out a series of airstrikes on the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib where several terrorist group are active.
The airstrikes targeted the outskirts of the towns of Kansafra and al-Bara in the al-Zawiya Mount in the southern countryside of Idlib.
Footage of the airstrikes shared by Syrian activists indicate that underground positions were hit. The positions were likely built by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib, and its allies.
لحظة الغارة من الطيران الحربي الروسي على اطراف قرية كنصفرة جنوب ادلب قبل قليل pic.twitter.com/Rw6HNhD8r4
— (رضوان الشهوان)Rdwanalshhwan (@rdwanalshhwan) October 23, 2021
— أحمد عاصي (@ahmad_aassi1) October 23, 2021
— ثورة (@thawraa_syr) October 23, 2021
جبل الزوية الباره ريف إدلب الجنوبي
نسأل الله الفرج pic.twitter.com/mpLAYZaquc
— مستمرون نحو المستقبل (@otCi3V1Y1VYlIkK) October 23, 2021
— شبكة عاجل سوريا (@syria55s) October 23, 2021
As the Russian airstrikes were taking place, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) artillery pounded the town of Ma’arat Misrin in the eastern Idlib countryside and the town of Darat Izza in the western countryside of Aleppo.
The Russian and Syrian strikes were likely a response to recent violations of the ceasefire in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey more than a year ago.
On October 20 and 21, HTS and its allies, namely the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation, shelled government-held areas around Greater Idlib with dozens of artillery rounds, mortars and rockets. On October 22, the terrorists targeted a heavy machine gun and a bulldozer of the SAA with anti-tank guided missiles.
According to recent reports, the SAA and its allies may soon launch a large-scale ground operation in Greater Idlib to reinforce the ceasefire and reopen the Lattakia-Aleppo highway, known as the M4.
Turkey, which maintains a large force in Greater Idlib, appears to be determined to confront any move by the SAA and its allies. The Turkish military deployed large reinforcements and set up two new positions in the region in the last few weeks. More recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Syrian troops with “heavy weapons”.