A Syrian regime attack kills 22 Jaish al Izza fighters in a truce zone in a rural area in the north of Hama province, near neighbouring Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

A member of the Syrian regime forces stands guard near a poster of Bashar al Assad and his Russian backer President Vladimir Putin during the re-opening of the road between Homs and Hama in Rastan, Syria on June 6, 2018.
A member of the Syrian regime forces stands guard near a poster of Bashar al Assad and his Russian backer President Vladimir Putin during the re-opening of the road between Homs and Hama in Rastan, Syria on June 6, 2018. (Reuters)

Syrian regime forces killed 22 rebels overnight near Idlib province, in the deadliest such attack in an area where a recent truce is to be enforced, a monitor said on Friday.

Fighting erupted when regime forces seized a position in a rural area in the north of neighbouring Hama province that had been held by the Jaish al Izza group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Idlib and some surrounding areas are the last major opposition and rebel bastion in Syria, where the Russian-backed regime has in recent months retaken much of the territory it had lost since the civil war erupted in 2011.

It had threatened an assault on opposition and rebel territory, home to around three million people, but a deal for a de-militarised buffer zone around it was reached in September between Moscow and opposition backer Ankara.

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Several deadly skirmishes have occurred since the deal but 22 is the highest number of known fatalities in a single incident inside the planned buffer zone, the Observatory said.

"This is the highest death toll in the de-militarised zone since it was announced," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based monitoring group, told AFP.

Source: AFP