Syria rebels repel limited attack on enclave despite truce
Syrian rebel fighters repelled an attack by government forces following brief clashes on Friday at the southern edge of the last rebel-held enclave in Syria, activists and the insurgents said. It was the first attempted ground operation to violate a shaky seven-month truce.
The clashes came after days of intense government escalation against the rebel enclave in northwestern Syria that included Russian airstrikes and indiscriminate barrel bombs. Russia said its air base in nearby Latakia province came under attack on Friday but its forces thwarted the attempt, without elaborating.
The increased fighting has undermined the ceasefire negotiated by Russia and Turkey, in place since last September. The agreement has since been weakened by recurrent cycles of violence.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, described the escalation as the “fiercest” since last September. It said fighting during the last four days had killed at least 38.
After a wave of airstrikes, rebel groups and the Observatory said government troops and allied fighters attempted to advance on the rebel enclave from the Qalaat al-Madiq area in Hama province, clashing with insurgents there.
The Observatory said the attempted advance followed intense airstrikes on the southern edge of Idlib province and northern Hama.