2020 Kafr Takharim airstrike

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2020 Kafr Takharim airstrike
Part of the Syrian Civil War and the Russian military intervention in Syria
Target Faylaq al-Sham
Date26 October 2020
Executed byRussia Russian Air Force
Casualties78–105[2][3] killed
100+ wounded

The 2020 Kafr Takharim airstrike occurred on 26 October 2020 when the Russian Air Force targeted a training camp run by Faylaq al-Sham, a major Islamist Syrian rebel group backed by Turkey, near the town of Kafr Takharim located around 10 kilometers from the Turkish border.[4] At the time of the attack, the camp contained more than 180 rebels affiliated with Faylaq al-Sham.[5] At least 78 rebel fighters were killed and over 100 more were wounded in the airstrike.[6][7]


According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the target site was a training camp that was bombed while there were dozens of fighters who were being trained before they were transferred to Azerbaijan. Officially, the Russian Defense Ministry refused to comment on the incident.[1]

The attack inflicted the highest number of casualties since the Russian-Turkish ceasefire that ended the Northwestern Syria offensive in March 2020. Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman called it the fiercest attack against the Sham Legion since the Russian military intervention in September 2015.[1][8]

Sources close to the Syrian government put the death toll of the strike at 200 dead and wounded within the ranks of Faylaq Al-Sham.[9][10]

On 1 November 2020, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights updated the number of casualties to 79 dead and dozens wounded.[11]

According to Youssef Hammoud, a spokesman for the groups, leaders of the camp were among those killed in the airstrike.[12]


Syrian rebel factions launched a massive artillery attack on Syrian Arab Army positions on 27 October 2020, killing 15 soldiers; one rebel was killed in the return bombardment.[13] The following day, another Syrian soldier was killed as rebels continued shelling SAA positions in Idlib province.[14]

Speculations about the rationale behind the attack[edit]

According to international observers, the targeted Russian attack on the Sham Legion was a "message" to Turkey. Director of the U.S.-based Middle East Institute Charles Lister told Al Jazeera that as the militia group was Turkey’s closest proxy in Idlib province, this "wasn't a Russian attack on the Syrian opposition as much as it was a direct hit against – and message to – Turkey". He added that it was possible that wider geopolitics had pushed Russia to strike, referring to the deployment by Turkey of Syrian militants to Libya and to the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh war.[15][16]


On 27 October 2020, the U.S. special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey criticized the Russian attack and accused "the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies of threatening the stability of the surrounding region, by continuing their quest for a military victory". He also stated "the attack was a dangerous escalation by the Assad government and apparent violation of the March 5 Idlib cease-fire agreement" and urged Assad and its allies to end their "needless, brutal war against the Syrian people".[17]

The National Front for Liberation released a statement announcing the death of a "large number" of its fighters by Russian strikes and said it would not hesitate to retaliate. NLF spokesman Sayf Raad denounced the "Russian aircraft and regime forces continuously violating the Turkish-Russian deal in targeting military positions, villages and towns".[18]

On 28 October 2020, in a parliamentary speech in Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan condemned the attack on a site of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, saying that Russia’s attack indicated its unwillingness to achieve a lasting peace in the region.[19][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "أعنف قصف روسي على "وكيل إردوغان" في إدلب". Asharq Al-Awsat. 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  2. ^ "Russian airstrikes reportedly kill Turkey-backed rebels in Syria". neweurope. 29 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Syrian rebels bomb regime positions following Russian airstrike which killed scores of opposition fighters". The New Arab. 28 October 2020.
  4. ^ Saad, Hwaida; Gall, Carlotta (2020-10-26). "Russian Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Turkish-Backed Rebels in Syria". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  5. ^ ""De-escalation zone" | Opposition factions respond to repeated violations by regime forces, shelling positions in Saraqeb and Sahl Al-Ghab • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights". The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 2020-10-26. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  6. ^ "Deadly blow to the Faylaq al-Sham militants in Idlib by Russia". remmont. 27 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Idlib | Thousands of residents mourn death of group of al-Sham Corps fighters killed in Russian airstrikes • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights". The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 2020-10-26. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  8. ^ "مدير "المرصد السوري": القصف الروسي كان الأعنف بالنسبة للفصائل المقاتلة منذ بداية العمليات الروسية في العام". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (in Arabic). 26 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Russian attack causes massive losses within ranks of Turkish-backed forces". almasdarnews. 28 October 2020.
  10. ^ "Before and after images of devastating Russian attack on Turkish-backed training camp". almasdarnews. 28 October 2020.
  11. ^ "Russian slaps to Erdogan… and the US preoccupation gave Putin the spoils". Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 2 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Russia strikes kill at least 78 Turkey-backed rebels in Syria, monitor says". timesofisrael. 31 January 2021.
  13. ^ "Military escalations | 15 regime soldiers and loyalists killed in rebel attacks on positions in Idlib, Hama, Aleppo and Latakia". The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 2020-10-27. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  14. ^ "Ceasefire violations | Opposition factions shell regime positions in rural Aleppo, and kill regime soldier in rural Idlib". The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. 2020-10-28. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  15. ^ "Russian airstrike threatens to unravel Idlib's relative stability". Middle East Institute.edu. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  16. ^ "Russian strike on Syria's Idlib fighters a 'message' to Turkey". aljazeera. 28 October 2020.
  17. ^ "US slams attack on Syria's Idlib, states Assad regime, Russia threaten regional stability". dailysabah. 29 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Russia strikes kill 78 rebels in Syria". The New Arab. 30 October 2020.
  19. ^ "Erdogan slams devastating Russian attack on Syrian militant camp". almasdarnews. 29 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Erdogan warns of military action in Syria, decries Russian strike". aljazeera. 29 October 2020.