Fierce clashes between Syrian regime forces and militant groups operating under “Hurras el-Din” operations room in the northwestern countryside of Hama left tens of casualties, the highest death toll since a ceasefire was reached between Turkey and Russia in Moscow on March 5.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it documented a spike in death toll among both conflicting parties due to the intensive shelling and fierce clashes.
“The death toll of regime soldiers and loyal militiamen has risen to 35, while the number of fatalities among militants jumped to 13. The death toll is expected to rise, as many injured are in serious conditions,” it wrote.
The clashes took place on Al-Manarah frontline (Tanjarah) in Sahl Al-Ghab early on Sunday.
They followed counter attack by regime forces backed by intensive ground firepower, in an attempt to recapture the village they lost to “Hurras al-Din organization” and other militant groups.
"It's the highest death toll for fighters since the truce came into force," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman, who relies on sources inside Syria.
He told AFP, "There had been intermittent clashes and mutual bombardment between both sides before, but this is the most violent attack yet."
The Idlib region is dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
However, other militants and rebel groups are also present. Hurras al-Deen has around 1,800 militants including non-Syrians.
On March 5, Russia and Turkey agreed in Moscow on a ceasefire, the establishment of a safe corridor 6 km along the M4 road in Idlib, and launching joint patrols.
Meanwhile, a Turkish column was seen heading towards Turkish posts in the Idlib countryside via the Kafr Losisin crossing.
The column consisted of about 20 trucks carrying “caravans” and logistical equipment.
The number of military vehicles, which entered Syrian territory since the start of the new ceasefire, has reached 3,180, in addition to thousands of Turkish soldiers.