Dozens of militants from different armed groups in southern Idlib were reportedly eliminated by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) in the late hours of July 2.
Pro-government activist said that warplanes of the SyAAF targeted several positions of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in the towns of Khan Shaykhun and Hobit killing at least 35 fighters of the group and injuring many others.
At the same time, Russian warplanes carried out several airstrikes on an underground base of the National Front for Liberation (NFL) near the town of Madaya. The pro-government al-Masdar News blog said that 15 fighters of the Turkish-backed group were killed as a result.
Both, the TIP and the NFL are close allies of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria. The terrorist group and its allies control over 90% of Idlib, as well as large parts of northern Lattakia, northern Hama and western Aleppo.
The aerial operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the SyAAF have dealt a major blow to HTS and its allies in Greater Idlib. However, without effective ground operations, these groups will likely maintain their control over the region.