Five Syrian soldiers and an equal number of jihadists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former Syrian arm of al-Qaeda, were killed on Thursday in fighting in Aleppo province in northern Syria, a non-governmental organization said.

The fighting has involved forces from President Bashar al-Assad’s army and the HTS, which along with other, less powerful jihadist and rebel factions control about half of Idlib province (northwest) and parts of neighboring provinces, especially Aleppo.

The fighting broke out when “members of the jihadist organization invaded the western part of Aleppo province,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

According to the NGO, which has a wide network of sources in the war-torn country, the fighting also resulted in the wounding of ten HTS members and six Syrian army men.

Following the ground engagements, the Damascus air force bombed a civilian area in Atareb, in the western part of Aleppo province, resulting in “ten civilians being injured,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Since the beginning of the year, a total of 124 people, combatants and civilians, have been killed in fighting and shelling, artillery and air strikes — five civilians, 86 Syrian soldiers and 30 jihadists — according to the NGO’s figures.

Syrian state media did not report on the fighting on Thursday.

Since late 2022, HTS has “intensified its bombardment” against positions of regime forces in Idlib, amid a warming of relations between Ankara and Damascus, according to the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syria and Turkey — a backer of the rebels — have resumed dialogue after more than a decade of severing relations between them because of the war that broke out in Syria in 2011.

Despite sporadic and sometimes bloody fighting, the ceasefire agreement negotiated by Moscow, an ally of Damascus, with Ankara has been generally observed since March 2020 in Idlib and neighboring areas.

Syria’s highly complex war, now in its 13th year, has killed more than half a million people, turned millions more into internally displaced persons and refugees, and caused a massive economic and humanitarian crisis.