69 Killed in Two Days of Fighting in North Syria

Battles rage between Syrian troops and al-Qaeda

Often described as the last bastion of the Syrian rebellion, the Idlib Province is heavily controlled by al-Qaeda at this point. Over the past two days, monitors have reported some of the heaviest fighting in months, as Syrian troops and their allies were hit by al-Qaeda, and tried to rebound by pushing into the area around Maarat al-Numaan.

Early signs are that the fighting was high casualty, if not particularly decisive. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 69 people killed, with 36 pro-government fighters among the slain.

In the end, no territory ended up changing hands for long. Al-Qaeda had taken a few positions early on, but counter-attacks, backed by Russian airstrikes, reversed the course and returned things to the status quo.

Civilians in the area around the fighting fled to the extent that they were able. The fighting over Idlib is likely to continue going forward, with the Syrian government keen to end al-Qaeda’s presence, and reclaim control over the last territory held by rebels not affiliated with any foreign power.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.