At least 17 Syria pro-regime fighters killed in rebel attacks

Assaults by Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras al-Deen also wounded 30 others in northern province of Aleppo.

    At least 17 Syrian government troops and their allies were killed by two armed groups in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, a war monitor said.

    About 30 others were also wounded in the Saturday morning assaults by Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its ally Hurras al-Deen, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

    The HTS-linked Ibaa news agency said the attacks killed more than 20 soldiers. It added the attacks were in retaliation for the bombardment by the Syrian and Russian militaries of rebel-held areas in recent days.

    Saturday's attacks in the southern and southwestern countryside of Aleppo province were launched shortly after midnight and triggered clashes that continued until dawn, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the Observatory's chief.

    He said the fighting subsided after Russian aircraft struck the armed groups' positions, prompting the fighters to pull back.

    Eight armed attackers were killed, he added.

    Russian aircraft also carried out raids in neighbouring Hama province early on Saturday, killing five civilians, the Observatory said.

    On Friday, Russian raids killed at least 10 civilians in Idlib province, the hub of territory held by HTS in northwestern Syria.

    Syria's state news agency SANA said rebels shelled the northern government-held village of Hader killing two civilians and wounding others.

    Buffer zone

    Russia and rebel-backer Turkey in September inked a buffer zone deal to avert a massive government offensive on Idlib, but the deal has never been implemented.

    The region of some three million people has come under increasing bombardment since HTS took full control of it in January.

    The latest Russian air raids came after two days of talks on the Syrian conflict between Turkey, Russia and fellow government backer Iran in Kazakhstan earlier this week.

    The three governments expressed concern over the growing power of HTS in Idlib and parts of adjacent provinces, and determination to cooperate to eliminate the group.

    The civil war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions since it began with the bloody repression of anti-government protests in 2011.

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    SOURCE: News agencies