Fighting Rages in Syria’s Idlib Province as Islamist Rebels Clash

Fighting Rages in Syria’s Idlib Province as Islamist Rebels Clash | Observatory: Both sides deploy heavy weapons in fighting

Fighting earlier this week in the Idlib Province, which saw the Jaish al-Mujahideen wiped out by al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front’, appears to have just been the beginning of infighting among the various Islamist rebel factions in the area, as reports today suggested fighting is heavier than ever, spanning several towns and resulting in large civilian casualties.

The newly formed coalition of rebels surrounding the Islamist faction Ahrar al-Sham has not successfully deterred Nusra, who reportedly begin today’s fighting with heavy tank fire against a Jaish al-Islam force. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, both sides quickly deployed heavy weaponry in the battle.

As more and more factions of the new coalition got involved, Nusra attacked them as well, and both sides are heavily shelling one another in several towns around the province now, with locals trapped in the middle, and hoping for the fighting to end soon.

The Nusra Front is the largest single faction within the Idlib Province, and had long been closely working with the other rebel factions, particularly the ones they’re now fighting against. The other rebels are involved in a ceasefire, and attending peace talks in Astana, but Nusra has been excluded from those talks. Nusra officials say they view those at the talks as “conspiring” against them, and appear to intend to attack every such group to ensure they don’t challenge them for control of the nation’s northwest.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • nhmakingwaves

    Nusra sees any negotiation as betrayal, even if it means declaring war on their former allies. Now we know what the Russians have been trying to tell us the whole time the US was giving them weapons to overthrow Syria’s government – these extremists are utterly unqualified to govern a country with diverse religions and ethnic groups. The only peace they’ll accept is through exterminating anyone who disagrees.

  • Good boys! Keep massacring each other.

    • Bianca

      Except that now Al-Nusra actually controls the Idlib province. And has now forced
      the losers to accept its dominance. Renamed AGAIN. But now they are acting like an Army, presumably have an operations room! Just enough BS, like White Helmets and Observatories, etc. to have the clueless media shed tears over them. It will be the last bastion of revolution, and there will be prayers for them. Hopefully we will see some collaboration between US and other actors fighting terrorism in Syria in the near future.

      • They’ve actually done everyone a favour by eliminating the so called moderates. Not even the Pentagon pretends al Nusra isn’t a terrorist group.

        • Bianca

          I agree. The definition game is over.

          One thing gives me unease. So far, Syrian government, Turkey and Russia had been sucessful in peeling off various groups and sub groups away from Al-Nusra, shrinking their control over Idlib. But I guess Al-Nusra figured out that striking before being squeezed was best. Their territory expanded. And some groups that went to Astana as a result split –two such split ftom Ahrar Al-Sham and joined Al-Nusra. But there is a plus here. These groups that left will no longer be the tail that wavgs the negotiating dog.

          Over 2000 local militants associated with Al-Nusra in Wadi Barada layed down weapons in an amnesty deal with the govrrnment. About 400 and their families wanted to go to Idlib. Russia opened Reconciliation centers, and this is how they separated Al-Nusra elements from locals that worked with them or under them.
          The reason for Al-Nusra sucessful inftration of local communities was two fold. First, Saudi clerics that radicalized population, and Al-Nusra that appeared to have US support and arms. Most locals, even not crazed Salafis, were convinced that Assad was going to fall, snd they wanted to be on the winning side. Now, they see that US.does not aim to remove Assad from power, and want to stay in their homes. Having lost, being surounded, they opt for deals and assistance from the government. That means having to sell their Al-Nusra pals, and wish them good trip to Idlib. It all may have increased Al -Nusra ranks and territory. In the end — there sre many non-Syrians there. Probably mostly Iraqis and Libyans. It is hard to imagine what will happen to population so steeped in brutallity. How to return them to normal life?

          • I think those who want to return to a normal life will be negotiating a surrender soon, if they haven’t done so already. It’s the irredeemable jihadi core which has refused to stop fighting and has taken the green buses to Idlib. Once the SAA pushes into Idlib the situation is likely to be further clarified with more surrenders especially among the new converts to Ahrar al Sham.

          • Bianca

            I think you are right. The art is in the slow peeling of Al-Nusra onion, and do not shed tears.

  • Bianca

    Well, well. And Russia was told that it should not fight the “opposition”, as Al-Nusra terrorized civilians in Aleppo, and all of these yesrs indiscriminatelly shelled villages and towns of Northern, Central and Eastern Syria. Having been reduced to Idlib — they still had the power to convince various Salafi groups to work for them and cause maybem in infrastructure or bomb crowded places. But now, realizing that Turkey, Russia and Iran are committed to ending the war, and other Moslem countries like Kazahstan clearly backing their efforts — they changed the position. Firmed up cease fire, and now discussing constitution. They have hard time with Syria remaining secular, and all religions to have equal rights. But now, their problem is existential.

    This problem with Al-Nusra has split Jaish Al-Islam, with over 2,000 accepting amnesty, while 500 decided to go to Idlib, at Government expense. Wadi Barada is now free, and water sources secured. Both Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaish Al-Islam committed many attrocities all these years, and are trying to find a way to get some political power in negotiations to avoid prosecution in the future. They cannot win in any free elections.

    And now, they are losing territory in Idlib, the only region left to “opposition”, other then small pockets that are laying down arms for amnesty. This will diminish GREATLY their position and role in negotiations. Al-Nusra wants to be recognized as the force on the ground to be negotiated with.

    Civilians will suffer in this mayhem. as these groups have shown to the world how the world can be thrned i

  • Bianca

    Just out. Al-Nusra Has REINVENTED itself again to force its way to negotiating table! This time it announced that it is “disbanding” itself, and organizing NEW broup together with four small groups that were once supported by US. He said the civil defense was giving aid to those displaced, but the service was coming under extreme strain because of the bombardments and displacements. It has said its supplies and equipment are running very low, with few if any medical centers left to take people for treatment.

    • Don

      Can you make your point without buying into the ‘butchery’ and ‘beheading’ stuff? It’s just that if you are going to use it then it would be only right to bring to light the methods of terrorizing the civilian population that is used by your own side. One side makes them dead and the other side makes them dead too. Not ‘very’ dead. Bombs from 30,000 feet make them dead and barrel bombs from a thousand feet make them dead too. Only with the latter, in smaller numbers. Get the point? You of all people need to rise to that level of understanding and clarity!

      • Bianca

        To the contrary — I never miss the point when someone is trying to bamboozle me. Bombs, barrell or otherwise, kill. The case that was attempted to make –and failed — was a story of an brrrutal dictator who out of sheer spite and hstred for his OWN people went out to barrel bomb them till the last Syrian is dead. The real story is of an externally imported terror groups, armed, funded and politically protected to spread fear using cruelty as a tool of submission. The groups that in addition to being armed and coddled — believe that they do God’s work. An army can in those situations choose to sit and do nothing, or take military actions sgainst them. Scared population as a rule wants their army to protect them. War is a war, and people die. But I will never, ever give justification for cruelty that is inflicted on civilians, not as a result of artillery shelling, or bombing — but as a result of deliberately taking a life of innocents, and enjoying in making them suffer. This is why I repeatey and deliberately mention cases. As I remember that poor beheaded boy, looking around to find mercy, and seeing only the monsters.

        You and people like you need to wake up and smell the stench of death. And before we go on blithely to call these groups “rebels” or “opposition”. as if we are talking of some rational beings capable of running a country — let us remember what they do.

        YOU SEEM TO BUY INTO IDEA THAT ALL THE FIGHTING IS THE SAME and who cares whose flag is raised over Damascus. Syrians care — the back flag of ISIS or Al-Nusra should not fly there.

        For you, unless youi lived under a rock, Operation Zero Footprint should mean something. And how on September 5th a ship loaded eith weapons arrived from Libya to Turkey. Port next to Incirlik US Air Base does not scrutinize US cargo. Except, this one resulted in two factions from Syria fighting for the weapons, rockets and rockets launchersi, ammunition. On September 11, 2012, Turkish consul in Libya met US Ambassador in a compound in Benghazi to clarify US intent in arming various groups — and destabilizing region. But that was going on already for a while, with UAE and Qadar doing the payments and arms transfer. CIA in Libya was buying back arms from Libyan groups –that already were tearing Libya apart.

        He left, and thitry minutes later, the compound was attacked. But ferrorist train and equip went on — from Jordan.

        It is important to remind ourselves who brought the monsters into Syria. And remind ourselves what these monsters do — and why they do it. Or else, we will just blithely talk about “rebels” or “opposition”.

        • Dracaveli

          the time for awareness was 2003… but Americans were convinced the waging of war if done by them will usher in peace not death to Iraqi’s.

          Something so easily dispelled at face value was instead ignored by an ignorant population, USA in 2003 thought war only brings misery in Hollywood films…in reality they believed war will be the means to bring everlasting peace.

          • Bianca

            I know. But mercifully, we are today in a different era. There are still those that do not pay attention to news, and spend time on their pet projects and on Facebook. Reality still does not affect many people. But very unwisely, the globe-shapers made a mistake, and poked Americans a bit too much. And the Fly Over country woke up. Of mice and man…

        • Valerianus Maximus

          I think you offended him by calling a spade a spade. Nice work!

          • Bianca

            Indeed. There have been theories floated in Russia, by the younger generation, that they just should have surrendered in St. Petersburg, and not go through the starvation and bombing. Yet, what is forgotten after many decades distance, is the path of death that German special forces carved though Russia and Belarus. Those dead civilians in those countless villages that did not opposed the occupier, yet, they were killed just to fulfill the plan of racial elimination. So, did it matter to St. Petersburg whose flag flew over their town? It did, as they knew the nature of the enemy, just as Syrians today know the nature of theirs.

  • Brian

    Sep 3, 2013 The Syrian War What You’re Not Being Told

    What’s really going on in Syria? Let’s look at the evidence.

    https://youtu.be/dkamZg68jpk