The Russian Defence Ministry’s Centre for Syrian Reconciliation, also known as the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in the Syrian Arab Republic, reported on Thursday that at least 40 Syrian Army servicemen had been killed and 80 more wounded after militants attacked their positions in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
The Centre added that up to 50 jihadists had been killed during the fighting in south-eastern part of the area.
The Centre also said that the militants broke through the Syrian Army’s line of defence, capturing at least two settlements in the area and forcing the government troops to retreat.
The attack comes after Syrian state-run media reported last week that the Syrian forces had resumed their military operation against jihadists in Idlib, over multiple ceasefire violations.
Russian MoD Denies Allegations of Airstrikes on Idlib's Civilian Infrastructure
Also last week, the Centre for Syrian Reconciliation refuted reports alleging that Russian combat aircraft recently made airstrikes on civilian targets in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
"Reports by a number of media outlets about strikes allegedly carried out by Russian combat aircraft on civilian targets in the Idlib de-escalation zone are false. Since the beginning of the ceasefire, the Russian Aerospace Forces have not conducted any sorties in the area", Maj. Gen. Yuri Borenkov, the Centre's commander, underscored.
A new ceasefire regime was introduced in the Idlib de-escalation zone at midnight on 9 January.
On 19 December, the Syrian Army started a new military operation in southeastern Idlib to clear the area of terrorists, including those allied with Daesh* and Tahrir al-Sham*, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front*. By 24 December, over 40 villages in Idlib had been retaken by government troops.
Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed that three corridors through which civilians could leave the Idlib de-escalation zone were currently in operation following the introduction of the ceasefire, including Al-Hadher in the Aleppo province as well as Abu Adh Dhuhur and Hobait in Idlib.
The Russian Reconciliation Centre for Syria has repeatedly called on militants to stop fighting and peacefully engage in conflict resolution.
Idlib is the last stronghold of militants in the Arab republic. According to Syrian President Bashar Assad, liberating the area is essential to putting an end to the country’s civil conflict.
*Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS, Islamic State), Tahrir al-Sham, Nusra Front are terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.