BEIRUT • Islamists and allied rebels in north-western Syria yesterday killed at least 12 pro-regime fighters, thwarting their advance, a war monitoring group said.
Another 17 pro-regime fighters were injured, while on the Islamist-led side, six fighters died, said the Britain-based group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The forces loyal to President Bashar-al Assad had launched an attack with artillery and heavy gunfire in Syria’s last major opposition bastion, said the war monitor.
But the Islamist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) alliance – headed by former leaders of Syria’s one-time Al-Qaeda affiliate – and their allies reportedly thwarted the advance.
Four HTS and two other rebel fighters were killed in the clashes in a rural area of Latakia province, the monitor said.
The HTS-led alliance also controls large areas of Idlib province and slivers of territory in neighbouring Aleppo and Hama.
The region they hold is home to about three million people, nearly half of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country.
Syria’s nine-year-old war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population.
The rebel-held area is a regular target of attacks by regime forces and their Russian and Iranian allies.
A Russian-backed government offensive between last December and March displaced nearly a million people in the region.
Although a ceasefire agreement backed by Moscow in March has reduced violence in the area, shelling and air strikes by the regime and its backers continue.
Russian air strikes on the town of Binnish in Idlib province killed three people from the same family yesterday, according to the monitor.