Russian and Syrian regime forces have killed 20 opposition fighters in an operation in southern Syria, including those responsible for blowing up a troop bus, a Russian officer was quoted as saying late on Sunday.
Major General Oleg Yegorov, quoted by Russia’s state news agency TASS, said the operation took place in southern Daraa province.
“The Russian group on interaction with security units of the Syrian armed forces, conducted a special operation in the town of Jasim, Deraa province in the south of (Syria) to liquidate Islamic State [group] fighters,” TASS said Yegorov told a briefing.
Russia and the Syrian regime have frequently accused opposition forces of belonging to the Islamic State group without providing proof.
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TASS said the fighters had been involved in the bombing of a bus last week that killed at least 18 Syrian servicemen near Damascus.
Yegorov claimed those killed in the operation included the organizer of the bus attack as well as others linked to IS group’s operations in Daraa and in Raqqa province.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.
The bus attack was one of the deadliest in months against Syrian regime troops not on an active front line. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and no comment from Syrian authorities.
The Syrian regime brutally suppressed peaceful protests in 2011, leading to an armed uprising. Russian and Syrian regime bombing has killed tens or hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Russian forces have been in Syria since 2015, helping the regime in their drive to recapture territory held by opposition fighters.
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