Syrian Army, Russian Jets Target Militants

Syrian Army, Russian Jets Target MilitantsSyrian Army, Russian Jets Target Militants

The Syrian Army and allied forces carried out ground attacks on insurgent positions in Syria on Wednesday backed by Russian airstrikes, in what appeared to be their first major coordinated assault since Moscow intervened last week, a monitor said.

Russia’s airstrikes hit northern parts of Hama province and nearby areas in Idlib province, targeting towns close to the main north-south highway that runs through major cities in western Syria; Reuters quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.

Ground attacks using heavy surface-to-surface missile bombardments targeted at least four insurgent positions in the area and there were heavy clashes on the ground, the head of the Observatory Rami Abdulrahman said.

Although Wednesday’s combined assault marked a military escalation, it was not immediately clear whether there would be rapid gains in a conflict that has already dragged on more than four years.

“There is no information yet of any (government) advances on the ground, but the airstrikes have hit vehicles and insurgent bases,” Abdulrahman said.

Russia’s strikes on Wednesday targeted the towns of Kafr Zita, Kafr Nabudah, Al-Sayyad and the village of Al-Latamneh in Hama province and the towns of Khan Shaykhun and Alhbit in Idlib, the Observatory said.

Most of Idlib province is held by an insurgent alliance that includes Al-Qaeda’s Syria wing Nusra Front and other extremist factions.