Early on January 20, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out a series of airstrikes on positions of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the towns of Khan al-Sabil and al-Janudiyah in the southern Idlib countryside.
A Russian military source told the Sputnik news agency that the airstrikes were carried out in order to prevent the radical group from launching rockets at positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in northern Hama.
Earlier this month, the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted a similar preemptive strike on positions of Turkish-backed militants, who were defeated by HTS. The strike was aimed at preventing the radical group from capturing the weapons and equipment left in the militants’ abandoned positions .
Russia paused its aerial activity over the opposition-held areas in northwestern Syria following the September 17 demilitarized zone agreement with Turkey. However, radical militants didn’t respect the agreement. This likely forced Russia to resume its strikes in the region.
Recent reports indicate that Moscow and its allies may be planning to take their response a step further and launch a ground operation around Idlib if militants continue their destructive behavior.