09:19 GMT25 February 2021
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    Around 9,000 terrorists of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front) terrorist group (banned in Russia) are attempting to take control over the Syrian province of Idlib, Col. Gen. Igor Korobov, chief of the Russian General Staff's Main Directorate, said Friday.

    "The total number of al-Nusra Front militants in northwestern Idlib stands at 9,000 people. Currently, terrorists are trying to take control over the whole of its territory by intensifying combat actions against the moderate opposition groups," Korobov said at the Army-2017 forum.

    Korobov noted that currently Nusra Front is the second most powerful terrorist group in Syria. It includes more than 15,000 militants, most of whom are Syrians.

    It was earlier reported that Nusra Front forces were actively regrouping in northern Syria, trying to take over control of main border crossings with Turkey.

    Speaking of the militant group last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that some members of the US-led coalition against Daesh are interested in preserving the Nusra Front group for later use in the fight against Damascus.

    Syria has been mired in civil war since March 2011, with government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad fighting numerous opposition factions and extremist groups operating in the country, including Daesh. Since September 30, Russia has been conducting an aerial campaign against terrorists in Syria at Assad's request.

    militants, Russian Defense Ministry, Al-Nusra Front, Idlib, Syria
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