Russian Aerospace Forces have pounded al-Nusrea/al-Qaeda terrorists in Idlib who recently fired missiles at the Latakia town of Qardaha, the birthplace of Bashar and Hafez al-Assad. While heavily protected, the mountainous town of Qardaha has become an increasingly symbolic target for terrorists who have otherwise already lost major battles to the Syrian Arab Army on the battlefield. Two Syrian civilians were martyred in the terrorist attack which Russia avenged hours later.
Idlib Governorate is one of the remaining parts of north-west Syria that still has a significant terrorist presence. Idlib has in the last months, been home to a kind of terrorist civil war between various factions of al-Qaeda, FSA and Muslim Brotherhood.
Recently, the Syrian Arab Army has begun liberating parts of Idlib from terrorist occupation as much of the Governorate has fallen under a largely Turkish controlled de-escalation zone, as agreed upon during the recent meeting of the Astana group. As with all Astana backed de-escalation zones, al-Qaeda and ISIS factions remain legitimate targets within such zones. Syria has given its support to the new de-escalation zone in spite of continued poor relations with Ankara. At the UN, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as well as Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Walid Muallem, emphasised the temporary nature of all Syrian de-escalation zones.
While the airstrikes came as welcome news to the people of Latakia, others were not so pleased. A fledgling organisation called Syria Observatory for Human Rights accused Russia of targeted civilian populations in their attack on al-Qaeda terrorists in Idlib.
In reality, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is run by a single individual in Britain whose information from Syria is derived almost entirely from al-Qaeda and FSA factions in Syria. The controversial group often copies and pastes statements from the terrorist groups who are fighting the secular Syrian government.
In spite of the group’s dubious nature, the Russian Defense Ministry responded to its accusations by posting a video of the anti-terrorist attack along with the following statement:
“Russian Defence Ministry refutes report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on alleged Russian Aerospace Forces strike on settlements in Idlib province.
“The Russian Aerospace Forces have conducted no strikes on settlements in the Syrian Arab Republic. Allegations made by the Observatory referring to anonymous ‘eyewitnesses’ and ‘volunteers’ are, traditionally, unsubstantiated and serve as ‘informational cover’ of actions of Jabhat al-Nusra militants and formations, which had joined them.
For the last 24 hours, after reconnaissance check by unmanned aerial vehicles and additional confirmation through other channels, Russian aircraft carried out 10 strikes on terrorists’ objects in Idlib province.
The strikes hit underground bases of insurgents, ammunition field storages, armored vehicles, multiple launch rocket systems, and car bombs mainetance services, which had been located far away from settlements and towns.
The eliminated objects and hardware were involved in preparation of offensive and offensive itself on positions of the Russian Military Police units in the north of Hama province on September 18. The offensive of insurgents was aimed to take the Russian MP servicemen as hostages”.
At the United Nations, Sergey Lavrov lamented that the US and its allies have been “sparing al-Nusra” in Syria.
The so-called al-Nusra front remains the most common name used to refer to al-Qaeda in Syria, a group which at various times has received US support in spite of being the group accused by Washington of committing the 9/11 atrocities.