"Despite agreements signed on September 15 in Astana, al-Nusra Front terrorists and allied militants, who do not want to uphold a cease-fire, launched a strong offensive on the positions of the government troops on September 19 to the north and northeast of the city of Hama in the Idlib de-escalation zone," the General Staff's statement said.
The militants' attack was "initiated by US secret services to stop the successful advance of the government troops to the east of Deir ez-Zor," it adds. The militants managed to penetrate Syrian army defenses to the depth of some 12 kilometers.
"In general, as a result of measures undertaken by the Russian command and the Syrian general staff, the terrorist offensive was stopped, and they suffered significant damage," the chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said.
A Russian military police unit of 29 personnel was encircled as the militants sought to capture it and was repelling the attacks for several hours together with a local tribe that had signed a cease-fire agreement. A group of Russian Spetsnaz and Syrian special operations forces came to the rescue, backed by Su-25 strike fighters. The military police unit broke the siege and left the area. Three servicemen were wounded.
The Syrian Army, supported by Russian warplanes, launched a counterattack and have almost completely reclaimed their positions in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The operation to destroy terrorists will continue, the General Staff said.
"A total of 187 terrorist targets were hit by air strikes and artillery fire, about 850 terrorists, 11 tanks, 4 infantry fighting vehicles, 46 pick-up trucks, 5 mortars, and 38 weapons depots were destroyed," Rudskoy added.