Ansar al-Tawheed rebel group launched attacks against Syrian Free Army

Fighters of the Ansar al-Tawheed rebel group launched attacks against Syrian army posts in northwestern Syria, which they said killed at least 25 soldiers to avenge civilian deaths during recent army shelling. Rebels of the Turkey-backed mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions told the Reuters news agency that dozens of rebels belonging to Ansar al-Tawheed attacked two major army checkpoints near the village of Masasneh in northern Hama province in a dawn attack on Sunday.

The army said in a statement that “a number of” its soldiers had been killed in attacks by “terrorists” and that bad weather had made the attacks easier. 

Lavrov said fighters who used to belong to the al-Nusra Front, Syria’s former chapter of al-Qaeda, were in control of large swaths of territory in Idlib province and were expanding their hold.

Both civilian-run opposition bodies and residents say the attacks have prompted thousands to flee from a number of front-line villages and towns, and have threatened a new exodus towards the Turkish border.

Khan Sheikhoun, which has borne the brunt of the recent rocket and missile attacks, has become a ghost town as most of its inhabitants fled to the safety of makeshift camps housing tens of thousands of people displaced after previous Russian and Syrian army air raids.