On March 9, al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Tawhid carried out a large-scale strike on government-held areas in the southern countryside of Idlib.
The terrorist group fired dozens of artillery rounds and improvised rocket-assisted munitions at the town of Mardikh. The group claimed that the strike targeted positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) 25th Special Forces Division, also known as the Tiger Forces.
According to Ansar al-Tawhid claims, eight Syrian service members were killed and several others were injured as a result of the large-scale strike.
These claims were dismissed by RusVesna.SU, which claimed that the strike was not carried out by Ansar al-Tawhid only. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) allegedly took part in the strike, which also targeted the towns of Saraqib and Dadikh.
According to RusVesna, the strike was a failure. The Russian Aerospace Forces detected the militants’ preparations early on. The SAA responded with heavy shelling. Dozens of militants were allegedly killed.
The joint strike of Ansar al-Tawhid and HTS was a blatant violation of the ceasefire in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey more than a year ago.
The ceasefire in Greater Idlib is still formally holding up. Nevertheless, the agreement will not likely survive for long if HTS and its allies continue to push towards the escalation.
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