Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and militant groups are concentrating their manpower in northern Latakia as well as near northern Hama and southwest of the city of Aleppo, Maj. Gen. Alexei Tsygankov, the head of the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring sides in Syria warned on August 2.
“The Russian center for reconciliation calls on the field commanders of the illegal paramilitary groups to renounce armed provocations and to turn to the path of peace settlement in the districts under their control,” Maj. Gen. Tsygankov said.
He noted that militant groups are operating in the Idlib de-escalation zone continue violating the ceasefire regime.
“Since Wednesday [August 1] afternoon, they shelled the populated localities of Arafit – twice – and Al-Safafa in Latakia, Sheikh Barakah in Hama, and the residential quarters of Al-Hamdaniya and Makanis al-Duwairi in Aleppo.”
According to the major general, two Syrian servicemen died and four civilians were wounded as a result of these developments.
On August 3, clashes erupted between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led forces and the Syrian Army near the town of Sirmaniyah in the northwestern Hama countryside. The situation had been triggered by a militant attack on Syrian Army positions in the area.
The situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone remains complicated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other radical groups remaining in almost a full control of the so-called opposition-held area.