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.