Airstrike kills top Nusra commander outside Aleppo, as Syrian Army retakes new neighborhood

© SANA
Senior Al-Nusra Front commander, known under the alias Abu Omar Saraqeb, was reportedly killed in a targeted airstrike on the village of Kafr Naha, 15 km north of Aleppo. In the city, Syrian government forces regained control over Ramousah district.

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The airstrike reportedly hit a group of Jabhat Fath Al-Sham militants as they were convening a meeting in the village on Thursday, Al Masdar News reports. Apart from Saraqeb, several other top commanders are said to have been destroyed in the raid. While there is so far no official data on who was behind the attack, unconfirmed reports cited by the outlet suggested it was carried out by a US warplane operating in the area.

Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham, previously known as Al-Nusra Front, was an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. In late July the group’s leader Mohamad Golani claimed it had severed ties with the former patrons to emerge under a new name.

The rebranding left both Russian and American diplomats unfazed with Russian Foreign Ministry issuing a statement saying “no matter how Jabhat al-Nusra calls itself, it will remain an illegal terrorist organization, which has no other objective but the creation of a so-called Islamic Caliphate with the most cruel and barbaric methods.” 

It comes at the time Syrian troops and allied militias are making significant gains in southern Aleppo, regaining control over strategically important Ramousah neighborhood. Its recapture will now allow the transfer of supplies to the government-held areas in the west of the city directly from its southern edge. Earlier, the supplies had to take the long route circumventing the rebel-held areas in the north and east of Aleppo.

READ MORE:Russia-US deal on Syrian reconciliation ‘not yet finalized,’ talks to continue – Kremlin

"Units of our armed forces in cooperation with allied forces control the gas works, the tannery, the slaughterhouse, the post office and the military checkpoint area of Ramousah in Aleppo," a Syrian military source said, speaking of the advances made in course of the large-scale offensive, as cited by Reuters.

While the Syrian army appears to maintain control over the most of the territory, the clashes still taking place in the parts of the neighborhood, with rebel sources claiming the fighters from Jaish al-Fatah and other militants still hold some positions in Ramousah.

Ramousah has seen heavy fighting in the past months which resulted in the rebels taking control over the district in early August, a huge setback for government forces at the time due to loss of the crucial supply route. The district is located near the town of Ramuseh which hosts a large government arsenal.  

On Thursday, Russia’s President spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated Russia and US are still working out the details of the comprehensive agreement on Syrian reconciliation.

“There is indeed a certain agreement or document which was actually mentioned by [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, but it is not yet finalized,” he said in a statement.