FILE PHOTO: Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft before departing for its permanent base in Russia from Khmeimim Air Base in Syria. © Vadim Grishankin / Sputnik
Late on February 14, Russian airstrikes wiped out a secret headquarters of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.
At least three pinpoint airstrikes hit the headquarters, which was located in the outskirts of the Central Prison to the west of Idlib’s city center.
A field source told the Sputnik network that HTS used to hold high-level meetings in the secret headquarters at random times. Due to this, the decision to completely destroy the headquarters was swiftly taken by the Russian Aerospace Forces.
“According to initial information, the strikes eliminated and injured a number of the group’s leaders and their guards,” the unnamed source said. “We are yet to identify their nationalities.”
HTS has not acknowledged any losses, so far. Nevertheless, the terrorist group, which rules over Greater Idlib with an iron fest, rarely does so.
This was the third round of Russian airstrikes on Idlib and its countryside in 2021. On February 2, Russian warplanes carried out airstrikes on positions of HTS near the town of Haranabush in the northern Idlib countryside. A day later, Russian airstrikes hit training camps of al-Qaeda’s Ajnad al-Kavkaz in the town of Armanaz in northwestern Idlib.
The recent wave of Russian airstrikes on Greater Idlib were likely meant to deter HTS and its allies. The terrorist group violates the ceasefire in Greater Idlib on a regular basis. Furthermore, recent reports revealed that the group is currently plotting to carry out attacks against civilians in Russia.
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