Al-Qaeda Kills Scores in North Syria Offensive, Seizes Several Villages

25 Hezbollah Fighters Reportedly Among the Slain

by Jason Ditz, June 19, 2016

As US pressure continues to mount for Russia to stop airstrikes against al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, the Islamist group is on a rampage in Northern Syria, seizing at least three villages in the Aleppo Province in a four day offensive which left scores dead.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 86, all pro-government fighters, and said 25 of them were members of Hezbollah. Hezbollah confirmed losing a number of “martyrs” to the al-Qaeda push. There was no word on Qaeda casualties yet.

The Nusra Front began offensives against this area, near the major city of Aleppo, during the previous ceasefire. Nusra has not been a party to the ceasefires. The US loudly condemned the Syrian military and Russia for attempts to counter the Nusra pushes, arguing that US-backed rebels are embedding themselves with al-Qaeda, and hitting them is a “violation” of the truce.

Several of the villages in this area have traded hands repeatedly in the past several months, and Nusra’s latest gain is likely to lead to another counteroffensive, and more US grousing about the attempts to forestall al-Qaeda’s advance.

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