23 Jan 2019 09:03

Syrian army engages reserves to deter Jabhat al-Nusra's attack in Idlib de-escalation area

MOSCOW. Jan 23 (Interfax-AVN) - The Syrian army has deterred an attack mounted by the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) in the Idlib de-escalation area, the Russian military said in a statement.

"Tensions escalated abruptly in the Idlib de-escalation area by night. Jabhat al-Nusra militants mounted simultaneous attacks on government forces' positions near Abu-Duhur and Abu-Sharjah," the head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria, Lt. Gen. Sergei Solomatin, said.

"Some 150-200 militants on 15 to 20 pickup trucks armed with heavy machineguns were operating in each zone," he said.

The militants cut through the Syrian army's defense lines to a distance of 1.5 kilometers, Solomatin said.

"The terrorists managed to penetrate 1.5 kilometers into the Syrian army's defense before they were stopped by gunfire and were driven back behind the contact line by reserve forces," he said.

"The Syrian army's fire stopped the attack of militants in the vicinity of Abu-Sharjah. The terrorists suffered casualties and retreated to the initial positions," he said.

According to Solomatin, the militants sent a suicide bomber on a vehicle loaded with explosives to the positions of the Syrian army.

"A suicide bomber driving a Jihad mobile was sent during the attack on Abu-Duhur. The vehicle was destroyed by an anti-tank guided missile launched from forward positions of the government forces," Solomatin said.

He added that the Russian military informed Turkey about the escalation of tensions in the Idlib de-escalation area.

"The Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides has organized interaction with the Turkish side which is rapidly informed about the situation in the vicinity of Abu-Duhur and al-Sharjah," Solomatin said.