Extremists have killed at least eight Syrian government troops near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major rebel bastion, a monitor said on Saturday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack took place late on Friday in the north of Hama province near the planned buffer zone around rebel-held territory in neighboring Idlib. The attack was led by fighters of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda branch which is the dominant force in Idlib, the Britain-based monitoring group said.
“An assault by HTS targeted a Syrian regime position on the outskirts of the de-militarised zone” and was followed by clashes in which eight regime forces were killed, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. Two extremists also died.
The de-militarised zone was announced by rebel backer Ankara and Damascus ally Moscow in September to separate government troops from rebel fighters in Idlib and adjacent areas.
More than 360,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the conflict erupted with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.