Three service members from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) were killed and two others were wounded as a result of attacks on the northern Lattakia countryside, Rear Admiral Oleg Gurinov, deputy chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, told reporters on April 15.
The attacks were all launched from the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib by militants from the Islamic Party of Turkistan (TIP).
“Over the past 24 hours, one shelling attack and two drone strikes were registered in the Idlib de-escalation zone,” the Russian commander said. “They were carried out by the TIP terrorist group and targeted the positions of Syrian government troops near the towns of Safsafa, Kara-Kilisa and Kastal al-Bordj in the Lattakia governorate.”
The al-Qaeda-affiliated TIP, which is dominated by Uyghurs, is a close ally of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib.
In the last few months, the TIP, HTS and other militant groups in Greater Idlib escalated their attacks against the SAA and its allies in violation of a ceasefire that was brokered by Russia and Turkey nearly three years ago.
Three militants of the TIP were killed in a failed attack against the SAA in the southern Idlib countryside earlier this week. HTS militants also raided a military position in the northwestern countryside of Hama.
The escalation in Greater Idlib is apparently meant to generate tensions in order to sabotage ongoing efforts to restore Syria’s relations with several Arab states and Turkey. The SAA and its allies have so far refrained from responding to recent attacks from the region. This could change in the near future.