Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its allies are pushing hard against a pair of Shi’ite villages in the Idlib Province today, firing hundreds of rockets and mortar shwells against Fuaa and Kafraya and leaving at least seven villagers killed and hundreds wounded.
The villages are essentially all that is left of the province that isn’t under al-Qaeda control, and are being defended by the remnants of Syrian military forces with heavy backing by Hezbollah. After the most recent ground push failed, the rocket fire picked up.
Al-Qaeda is presenting the attacks on the villages, and on Hezbollah forces, as retaliation for the Hezbollah-led offensive against Zabadani, along the Lebanese border. That offensive has managed to chase al-Qaeda’s forces out of much of the Qalamoun Mountains area.
Al-Qaeda’s territorial holdings are Idlib and some of the adjoining Aleppo Province, with some small holdings in Qalamoun. They have talked of an offensive against Latakia Province, but so far have not made any serious inroads in that area.