AZAZ, Syria/BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian insurgents carried out two suicide car bomb attacks in an assault on pro-government forces in Aleppo on Saturday and opened a new front northeast of the city, an attempted fightback after territorial gains for President Bashar al-Assad.
Backed by Russian air power, Syrian government forces had made a significant advance into the rebel-held northwest this week, seizing the town of Maarat al-Numan, part of an offensive to secure the main highway between Damascus and Aleppo.
The suicide attacks were carried out by jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and targeted the Jamiyat al Zahraa area on the western edge of Aleppo. A third car bomb was set off by remote control, a source with the group said.
A news outlet linked to the group, Ebaa, published a video which it said showed elite Tahrir al-Sham fighters pledging “allegiance to death and jihad” before the attack on Jamiyat al-Zahraa, watched by the group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Jolani.
The northwestern corner of Syria including Idlib province and adjoining areas of Aleppo is the last major rebel foothold in Syria, where Assad has taken back most of the ground once held by his enemies with Russian and Iranian support.