On September 22, the Russian Black Sea fleet’s submarine, Veliky Novgorod, carried out a cruise missile strike on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formelry Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) targets in Syria’s Idlib province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“The missile strike destroyed important command centers, training bases and armored vehicles of the terrorists who tried to capture 29 Russian military policemen in the north of the Hama Province,” the ministry said in a statement. “The targets included strongholds, militants and armored vehicles, as well as ammunition depots belonging to al-Nusra Front [Hayat Tahrir al-Sham/Jabhat al-Nusra] in the Idlib Province. The distance of the strike was nearly 300 kilometers.”
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies started is offensive against government forces and allied Russian troops on September 19 with an aim to seize the key government-held town of Ma’an and capture a platoon (29 servicemen) of the Russian Military Police deployed inside the Idlib de-escalation zone.
According to the Russian media, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham used info leaked from the US-led coalition during its attempt to capture the Russian troops. The Russian Defense Ministry said that “according to available data, the offensive was initiated by American intelligence services to stop a successful advance of government troops east of Deir ez-Zor [Deir Ezzor].”