An attack by al-Qaida-allied group in northwest Syria kills, wounds dozens of troops, activists say

This is a locator map for Syria with its capital, Damascus. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT (AP) — Insurgents in northwest Syria attacked an army position Saturday killing and wounding more than 30 troops, opposition activists said.

The attack came days after Russian and Syrian warplanes carried out several airstrikes on the last major rebel stronghold in the northwestern province of Idlib and parts of Aleppo killing several insurgents.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the Ansar al-Tawhid group, which is allied with al-Qaida, carried out the attack with its members first detonating a massive bomb and then storming the position manned by government troops.

The Observatory said the attack killed 11 soldiers and wounded 20 others.

Other activist collectives, including Amjad News, also reported the attack saying it killed and wounded dozens of soldiers without giving a breakdown.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government or state media.

A truce reached between Russia and Turkey in March 2020 that ended a Russian-backed government offensive on Idlib province has been repeatedly violated resulting in scores of people getting killed and wounded.

Russia has been a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and joined the war in September 2015 helping tip the balance of power in his favor. Turkey is a main backer of the armed opposition.

Syria’s 12-year conflict that started with anti-government protests then morphed into a civil war killed half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million. More than 5 million Syrians are now refugees, most in neighboring countries.