At least 22 members of the Syrian Army and militant factions, notably the Guardians of Religion organization (Huras Al Din), were killed during clashes in northwestern Syria, despite a ceasefire in effect two months ago, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday.
A ceasefire has been in effect in Idlib and parts of neighboring provinces since the sixth of March, following a massive attack by the Syrian Army with Russian support, which has driven nearly a million people from their areas.
The observatory reported the killing of “15 members of the Syrian forces and gunmen loyal to them, compared to seven fighters of the organization” Guardians of Religion “and jihadist groups, as a result of violent clashes in the Al Ghab area in the northwestern countryside of Hama.
The death toll is “the highest since the truce took effect,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the observatory, told AFP, explaining that “the clashes erupted after midnight after the factions attacked the positions of the Syrian army forces”.
The Guardian Religion faction, affiliated with Al Qaeda, and which has about 1,800 fighters, including non-Syrian nationalities, is active in northwestern Syria.
The Guardian Religion faction fights with militant groups alongside the Al Sham Liberation Headquarters (formerly Jabhat Al Nusra), which is the most influential organization in Idlib.
The ongoing fighting between the two parties is accompanied by intense missile strikes carried out by the Syrian army in the area and its surroundings and in the neighboring southern Idlib countryside, according to the observatory.
Since the truce declared by Moscow in support of Damascus and Ankara in support of the factions, the region has witnessed intermittent clashes and mutual shelling between the two parties, but the current battles are the “fiercest” according to the observatory.
The warplanes of Damascus and its ally Moscow have been absent from the region’s atmosphere since the truce began, at a time when the United Nations has counted the return of about 120,000 people to their areas, while tens of thousands are crowded in overcrowded camps, amid fears of a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the event of a new Coronavirus.
Under the armistice agreement, Russia and Turkey will conduct joint patrols along a strategic international route that separates the areas controlled by the Syrian Army forces and the factions, the last of which is three days ago.