Syrian Army fighter
© Sputnik / Mikhail Alaeddin
FILE PHOTO
Hundreds of fighters have attempted to break through Syrian Army lines, losing dozens of militants in the process while inflicting heavy casualties on government troops who eventually had to retreat.

Almost 600 fighters staged six attacks on Syrian forces, the Russian military's Reconciliation Center in Syria told the media on Thursday. "In the wake of the offensive, government troops left their positions in the southeastern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone," it said.

The message didn't reveal details of the firefight, but the number of casualties suggests that it was fierce and took a heavy toll on both sides. Up to 40 Syrian soldiers were killed and around 80 were wounded while repelling the attacks. Militants are thought to have lost up to 50 people with 90 injured.

Idlib is the last remaining province still held by rebels affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups. Lying on the Turkish border, it saw an array of ceasefires brokered by Moscow and Ankara over the past year and a half.

The latest agreement provided for a safe corridor allowing civilians to leave the embattled area. Meanwhile, the Syrian army is carrying on its offensive against militant strongholds, trying to capture the strategic M5 highway linking Damascus with Syria's former financial hub Aleppo.