A devastating attack by jihadists has left a trail of destruction and loss in northwestern Syria’s Idlib province. On Saturday, militants belonging to the Ansar al-Tawhid group and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) carried out a coordinated assault that claimed the lives of at least 11 soldiers. According to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attackers strategically detonated explosives placed in tunnels beneath army positions before launching a violent onslaught.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory, revealed the chilling details of the assault. “Detonating tunnels they had dug beneath army positions and simultaneously launching an assault from other tunnels,” Rahman stated, emphasizing the level of planning and coordination executed by the militants.

Tragedy further befell the region as the attack left 20 soldiers wounded. The assault unfolded in the southern part of Idlib province, a zone that has seen ongoing military activity. Concurrently, Syria and its ally Russia have been conducting airstrikes in the mountainous Jabal al-Zawiya area of Idlib. While the observatory confirmed these airstrikes, immediate details regarding casualties have not yet been reported.

The attack’s collateral damage extended to civilian lives. The White Helmets, a volunteer emergency service, revealed that a brother and sister lost their lives when their home in the village of Kansafra was struck. Five other civilians were wounded in the same incident.

Affiliation with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham: Unveiling the Extremist Nexus

Notably, the jihadist groups responsible for the attack, Ansar al-Tawhid and the Turkestan Islamic Party, are affiliated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a larger extremist organization controlling significant parts of Idlib province as well as neighboring regions. The HTS has been at the center of the ongoing conflict and has been linked to Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria.