DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:00 A.M.) – Skirmishes have resumed with ferocity on the western fringes of Aleppo city as Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) is exploiting a regional UN-brokered safe zone that prevents the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) from conducting sorties over Idlib province and limits it from targeting Islamist rebel groups in rural Aleppo.
A newly released HTS video depicts a recent raid on the Air Force Intelligence Building in the Jamiyat Al-Zahraa neighborhood of western Aleppo. According to the media wing of HTS, five soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) were killed in the attack:
Despite partially overrunning a key government facility, HTS did not achieve any major breakthrough and later withdrew to its initial positions, a military source informed Al-Masdar News.
HTS, a jihadist faction with close ties to Al-Qaeda, is considered a terrorist organization by most countries worldwide and subsequently has been excluded from the de-escalation zones in Syria.
Turkey, Iran and Russia agreed to implement safe zones across four regions of rebel-held Syria last month. However, clashes have slowly begun to resume in both Daraa, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and the East Ghouta.
HTS represents the single largest rebel group in Syria; due to its persistent hostilities, the SAA has relaunched its counter-insurgency operations in most of the de-escalation zones.