Rebels in Latakia Province, northwest Syria, preparing for a counter-attack on Assad regime positions, July 9, 2019

Anti-Assad forces have inflicted a further setback on a Russia-regime offensive in northwest Syria, counter-attacking in northern Latakia Province.

Pro-opposition sites reported that rebels and the Islamist bloc of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham attacked more than 20 positions of Assad forces, including those of Russian-supported militias, in the Mount Turkmen area (see map) and held them for hours. The rebel operations room claimed four positions were captured, heavy and medium weapons were taken, and two armored vehicles destroyed and three others seized.

Pro-Assad sites confirmed that regime forces suffered scores of casualties, posting photos of the slain. The anti-Assad groups posted video of other troops who were captured.

The attacks were carried out by the “Incite the Believers” operation room of Islamist factions such as Huras al-Din.

The Russian-regime offensive was launched on May 6, shattering a demilitarized zone around Idlib and northern Hama Provinces that was declared by Turkey and Russia last September.

Enabled by Russian airstrikes and advisors on the ground, Assad forces quickly took several towns and villages in northwest Hama but was soon checked by the anti-Assad coalition. A counter-attack last month regained some of the territory.

Pro-Assad forces made several attempts to seize the key hilltop town of Kabani in neighboring Latakia Province, but failed and took heavy casualties.

See also Syria Daily, July 5: 1,000 Assad Regime Troops Killed in Stalled Northwest Offensive?

Meanwhile, Russian and regime bombardment has killed at least 544 civilians, including 130 children in Idlib Province since late April. More than 2,100 have been injured.

More than 330,000 of Idlib and northern Hama’s 3 million population — about 20% of those remaining in Syria — have been displaced. Thirty medical centers have been attacked, and several rescuers slain.

Syria Daily, July 8: Russia-Regime Attacks Kill At Least 544 Idlib Civilians in 2 Months