Image from Russia State outlet RT of Assad troops in northwest Hama Province, May 2019

A pro-opposition journalist claims that the Assad regime has suffered casualties of 1,000 troops killed and 1,700 injured in its stalled Russian-backed offensive to recapture northwest Syria.

Hadi al-Abdullah, one of the most prominent reporters on Syria’s 100-month conflict, also claimed from a “field source” that 150 regime officers were among the slain. He added that a Russian officer and several troops have been killed.

There is no independent confirmation of the claims.

The regime, enabled by Russian airstrikes and supported by Moscow’s advisors on the ground, launched an offensive on May 6 in northwest Hama Province and also attacked positions in neighboring Latakia Province. The assault quickly took several towns and villages, but soon stalled. A counter-offensive by rebels and the Islamist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham retook some of the territory last month.

Regime forces have been unable to regain the initiative. Waves of attacks have failed to take the key hilltop of Tal Maleh, overlooking a main road linking regime positions, with Assad’s troops suffering heavy losses.

Abdullah claimed from his source that more than 110 of the regime’s heavy military vehicles have been damaged or destroyed, and several warplanes and helicopters disabled.

Assad regime media has not referred to any significant losses of personnel or even a setback for the offensive, repeatedly declaring success in killing “terrorists” and gaining territory. However, the pro-Assad blog Al Masdar has acknowledged defeated, including the latest failure at Tal Maleh.

See also Syria Daily, June 29: Regime Fails Again in Hama in Northwest Offensive

Bombardment of Idlib Continues

The Assad regime is continuing its months-long bombardment of Idlib Province, with attacks on towns such as Hass, Khan Sheikhoun, Khan Safra and Kafrnabel on Thursday.

White Helmets rescuers claimed the use of internationally-banned cluster munitions. They said at least five civilians were killed, including a 9-year-old boy.

The Assad regime regularly broke the demilitarized zone around northern Hama and Idlib, declared by Russia and Turkey last September. It escalated the bombing and shelling from mid-February, and further stepped up attacks with the launch of the Hama offensive.

Since April 28, more than 400 civilians have been killed and hundreds wounded. At least 330,000 of Idlib and northern Hama’s population — about 20% of those remaining in Syria — have been displaced. Almost 30 medical centers have been attacked, and several rescuers slain.

Abdullah and Hasan Mukhtar report: