TUNNEL VISION: The Islamic Front claims to have demolished a major regime checkpoint in the Wadi a-Deif military encampment adjacent to the M5 highway in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Wednesday, marking the second time in 10 days that the group has bombed a government installation on the same base.
“The demolition of Wadi a-Deif—Allahu akbar!” shouts an unseen fighter as clouds of dust begin to settle following a massive explosion in what the Islamic Front calls “an excellent video.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited sources reporting that “dozens” of regime fighters had been killed or injured in the attack, which targeted the Tallat a-Sawadi checkpoint.
Meanwhile, pro-Islamic Front news site Omawi Mubashar reported that the group planted some 60 tons of explosives in an 850 meter-long tunnel that rebels dug under Wadi a-Deif.
The bombing echoed an attack on May 5, when the Islamic Front released video purporting to show the group’s destruction of another Wadi a-Deif checkpoint, also using explosives placed in underground tunnels. The Observatory reported some 30 casualties in the first bombing.
The Wadi a-Deif encampment is among the most fortified in Idlib province, and contains large stores of weapons and equipment used by regime forces. It lies just one kilometer east of the strategically vital M5 international highway, which connects Damascus with central and northern Syria.
Government and opposition forces have waged a back-and-forth battle for control of the highway in northern Hama and southern Idlib, focusing on the towns of Mourek, Khan Sheikhoun, Maarat a-Numan and Wadi a-Deif. The regime presently retains full control of the road.
Wadi a-Deif also lies just three kilometers west of the Idlib town of Telmans, which government forces are believed to have attacked with chlorine gas on April 21. A Telmans-based activist who calls himself Salih al-Idlibi attributed the chlorine attack to Telmans’s proximity to the contested military base.
“Of course, it’s because Telmans is just four kilometers from Wadi a-Deif,” he told Syria Direct.