Syria : Jihadist group shells Assad's hometown

AFP , Wednesday 23 Aug 2023

Shelling hit the hometown of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the coastal province of Latakia on Wednesday, wounding a civilian, state media said, the second such attack in two months.

Fighters from the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), headed by ex-members of Syria s former Al-Qaeda franchise, take part in a military training graduation ceremony in the country s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province on August 16, 2023. AFP


"Five shells were fired by terrorist groups deployed in the northern countryside on agricultural lands in the Qardaha area, wounding a citizen," the official news agency SANA said, quoting a police source.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said a civilian was wounded in the attack that was carried out early in the morning by factions affiliated with the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group.

HTS, led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls swathes of Idlib province as well as parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia.

In the previous attack on Qardaha, a civilian was killed in a drone strike on June 23, the British-based Observatory, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria, said at the time.

The latest shelling comes amid an uptick in attacks by Damascus ally Moscow in retaliation for drone strikes by HTS and its allies on government-held territory, said the head of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman.

Russia's military has mainly targeted HTS bases suspected of manufacturing drones, he said.

Moscow's intervention in the Syrian conflict since 2015 has helped Damascus claw back much of the territory it lost to rebel forces early in the 12-year civil war.

On Tuesday, five people including two civilians were killed in Russian strikes in Syria's rebel-held northwest, the monitor said.

The Syrian war broke out after Assad's repression of peaceful anti-government demonstrations escalated into a deadly conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global jihadists.

The conflict has killed more than half 500,000 people and forced around half of the country's population from their homes.

Short link: