MOSCOW, July 29. /TASS/. Reconnaissance has registered militants in Syria redeploying forces to the southwestern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone gearing up for an offensive, Chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi, told reporters at a press briefing on Monday.
"Reconnaissance has currently been registering covert redeployment and amassment of militants in the southwestern part of the [Idlib] de-escalation zone. At least 500 terrorists from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, both groups outlawed in Russia - TASS) have been redeployed from the northern areas of the Idlib province. Preparations for offensive operations are underway," he said.
According to Rudskoi, militants have an increasingly large number of foreign-made weapons, including multiple rocket launchers. "Jointly with our Turkish colleagues, we are taking steps to detect and surgically destroy the weapons of terrorists, their equipment, armaments and ammunition depots," he pointed out.
Rudkoi noted that, over the past 1.5 months, surgical strikes on the southwestern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone have destroyed 11 tanks, 17 infantry fighting vehicles, 12 multiple rocket launchers, 29 vans with heavy machine guns, and also three depots with more than 40 drones.
"Let me emphasize that Russian aircraft strike only previously reconnoitered targets whose locations are verified several times through at least three independent channels. All strikes are targeted and surgical," he added.
Mass attacks in Idlib
The Syrian army has repelled two mass attacks of terrorists in the Idlib Governorate on Sunday, according to Rudskoi.
"Attacks on positions of the government forces became frequent. Yesterday at 05:40 and 06:10 terrorists carried out two mass attacks on the Syrian army’s positions near the communities of Kafr Yahud and Jalamah. Units of up to 300 militants supported by up to five tanks, up to 10 armored vehicles and up to 20 pickup trucks operated in each of the areas," he said.
Rudskoi said that these attacks were repelled by the Syrian government army with support from the Russian Aerospace Force.
"The terrorists have carried out a total of 324 attacks and made 17 attempts to advance on the positions, using tanks and artillery, since June 12, 2019," he said.
Military and civilian casualties
Bombardments by militants in Syria’s de-escalation zone Idlib have killed 100 government troops and 65 civilians over the past four months, according to the General Staff.
"Over the past four months hit-and-run raids and mortar and artillery bombardments by terrorists from the de-escalation zone Idlib claimed the lives of 110 government troops and 65 civilians. More than 240 Syrian military servicemen and 100 civilians were injured," Rudskoi said.
Also, terrorists pushed ahead with attempts to attack the airbase Khmeimim with multiple rocket launchers and drones.
"The militants carried out the latest attempts to attack Russian facilities from the zone Idlib with rockets on July 17 and 21. The Russian base’s air defense repelled both attacks," Rudskoi said.