strike near Idleb, 40 jihadist leaders killed according to NGO


The United States led a Saturday strike in Syria against jihadist leaders near the city of Idleb in the northwestern country at war, killing at least 40 of them, according to an NGO.

The province of Idleb was the subject of a truce concerning only the Syrian army and entered into force in the morning, but it did not last since a civilian was killed during the regime's fire, after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said in a brief statement that a US strike had targeted north of Idleb "leaders of AQ-S responsible for attacks threatening US citizens, our partners, as well as innocent civilians" without give details of how the operation was conducted.

The OSDH, which draws on an extensive network of sources in Syria, said that missile firing had targeted a meeting of jihadist leaders Hrasras al-Din and Ansar al-Tawhid as well as leaders of other groups. extremist groups allied to them in a training camp.

"At least 40 of them" were killed, told AFP Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the OSDH.

This record is one of the deadliest inflicted on jihadists in a single attack in Syria.

The targeted groups are allies of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, which dominates the province of Idleb. All these factions have already been the target of air raids by the Syrian regime, its Russian ally, but also the international anti-jihadist coalition led by the United States, and the United States itself.

North of Idleb, successive explosions were heard, followed by columns of smoke, said an AFP correspondent present near the scene of the attack. Ambulances went on site while journalists did not have access.

On June 30, the United States conducted a strike "against the leadership of Al Qaeda in Syria in a training facility" in the province of Aleppo, next to that of Idleb. The OSDH then claimed that the strike had killed eight, including six commanders of the group Hourras al-Din.

In 2014, Washington set up an international coalition to fight the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, whose last cut was resumed last March in Syria with the help of Kurdish forces. But American soldiers are still in Syria.

US strikes against jihadists have dropped significantly since 2017.

– Violation of the truce –

Elsewhere in Idleb province, a civilian was killed on Saturday during Syrian gunfire, the first "violation" of a unilateral truce by the Syrian army, according to the OSDH.

The shooting took place on the city of Kafranbel, south of the city of Idleb, told AFP Rami Abdel Rahmane, the director of the NGO.

The truce began Saturday morning after being announced Friday after four months of devastating bombing by Russia, allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A previous truce decreed early August in this same region had shattered after a few days.

In late April, the Assad Assisted Moscow regime launched air raids against Idleb Province and adjoining areas in the neighboring provinces of Hama, Latakia and Aleppo, dominated by HTS. On August 8, he began a ground offensive taking over many areas, including all the areas that escaped him in the province of Hama.

The offensive has killed more than 950 civilians since the end of April.

As a border country of Syria, Turkey has agreed with the United States to establish a buffer zone between the Turkish border and the areas of northeastern Syria controlled by Kurdish forces described as "terrorists" by Ankara.

On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria if his country did not get control of this "safe zone".

The Assad regime recaptured about 60% of the territory with the help of Moscow, Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah. In addition to the region of Idleb, vast areas in the hands of Kurdish forces escape him.

Triggered in 2011 with the repression of pro-democracy protests, the war in Syria claimed more than 370,000 lives.

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