DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – Syrian and Russian warplanes have jointly carried out precision attacks against the positions of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, in the northwestern province of Idlib.
A gathering of the terrorist group's ringleaders at Taftanaz military airbase in Idlib was pounded three times by Syrian and Russian aircraft as part of a joint operation, Sputnik news agency reported.
The strikes came after the terrorists refused to honor a full ceasefire agreement brokered between Russia and Turkey late Wednesday with the aim of halting clashes between Syrian forces and terrorists in the area.
That agreement put on hold a Syrian government offensive to liberate Idlib, where between 10,000 and 15,000 terrorists are estimated to be holed up.
The report said the terrorists’ hideouts in the southern areas of Khan Shaykhun, Sufuhon, Kafr Nabl, and Hass in the province were also targeted by the warplanes.
Militants have persisted in their stay in the zone and refused to leave the area, launching instead numerous attacks on the outposts of the Syrian army and Russian forces.
Russia and Turkey gave sharply conflicting accounts on Thursday of an attack on a Turkish military outpost.
Turkey claimed one of its observation posts in Idlib province had come under deliberate attack from Syrian forces, in which three Turkish soldiers were allegedly wounded.
Moscow said the attack was carried out not by the Syrian troops, but by militants.
Turkey's Defense Ministry claimed on Thursday that Syrian government forces had carried out a deliberate attack on one of its observation posts in the troubled region. The assault, it said, lightly wounded three Turkish soldiers and damaged equipment and facilities.
The ministry said it had raised the issue with Russian counterparts as a fellow guarantor of the de-escalation zone around the militant-riddled territory agreed in September last year.
But Russia's Ministry of Defense blamed terrorists based in Idlib for the attack and said the Turkish army had asked Moscow to ensure the safety of its personnel and to strike militant hideouts in the region
As a result, Russian warplanes carried out four airstrikes against the targets, the coordinates of which were provided by the Turkish military, a ministry statement noted.
It also added that a large number of militants and artillery pieces had been destroyed in the aerial raids.
Russia and Turkey earlier brokered a full ceasefire agreement in Idlib aimed at halting clashes between government forces and terrorists in the area.