„Al Qaeda & friends“ captured the Syrian city of Idlib – some interesting notes

„Islamist rebels have captured the north-western Syrian city of Idlib from government forces“

These rebel coalition going by the name „Jaysh al Fateh“ is not only „Islamists“ but mainly even Al Qaeda, as the main factions involved were Jabhat al Nusra (JAN) and the Salafi group Ahrar al Sham.
„While Al Nusrah is an official arm of al Qaeda in Syria, both Ahrar al Sham and Jund al Aqsa are also linked to al Qaeda.“

Moderate fighters once supported by the United States played no role in Idlib’s capture. They had been routed from the province by Nusra over the past three months, and starting in December, the United States had cut their salaries and supplies.“

What is interesting is that in a Sunni city of 100.000 people no rebel victory video shows any population greeting and celebrating the rebels. Where are the „liberated“ civilians?

And there is the well-known neutral blogger Edward Dark who even says that most of the people fled Idlib towards government areas:
Same repeated by another source:



3 Gedanken zu “„Al Qaeda & friends“ captured the Syrian city of Idlib – some interesting notes

  1. Radioyaran notes that in the aftermath of the rebel takeover of Idlib City „No rebel victory video shows any population greeting and celebrating the rebels.“ The same was largely true after the rebel takeover of Raqqa City which happened on 4 March 2013 — you can observe that at Youtube via a search for الرقة 4/3/2013 . Another thing to note about the rebel takeover of Idlib City is that the number of rebel fighters involved was „small“ or „very small“ (by anyone’s reasonable definition of „small“) — this is demonstrated by the numbers of rebels on view in the victory videos from Idlib City at Youtube over the past couple of days. The same thing was true at Raqqa on 4 March 2013. Both cities were abandoned by the Syrian security forces without a fight, after harassments from truly small numbers of guerrilla fighters.

    After the army abandoned Raqqa city in March 2013, the army maintained a smallish fortified army base just outside the city limits of Raqqa city for the next 18 months. The rebels didn’t have the firepower or the manpower to dislodge the army from that base until after ISIS got new weapons from its victories in Mosul in summer 2014. In a like way, I don’t read the fall of Idlib City as much enabling the rebels to launch more attacks on army positions in the Idlib area. The fall of Idlib City does not come with an implication that the rebels have the firepower or the manpower to fight in a non-guerrilla mode.

    I remember two years ago, shortly after the fall of Raqqa city, it was said by Radioyaran (aka KerKaraje) that numerous recent victories by the rebels implied that the rebels must have 75,000 or more active men under arms. In particular on 3 April 2013 he said: „it does not make sense to claim that the rebels are only 30,000 men. It is not conceivable that a mere 30,000….“ Again yesterday or the day before, after the fall of Idlib city, Radioyaran said at another forum: „it is clear to me that the total of SAA+NDF+Hezbollah+other affiliates is (much) lower than the numbers of the insurgents“. I’ve been respectfully disagreeing with him about that for two years, and I still disagree today, but all I want to say today is that the number of rebels involved in the victory at Idlib City is observable at Youtube, and it was truly small. It is wellknown that the rebels were planning this latest attack on Idlib City for months, after previous attacks by them against the city in 2014 were driven back. From my angle of view, the fact that their fighting force was small-scale is more telling than the fact that the Syrian army opted to abandon the city.

    • Hello Parviziyi,
      I would not interpret too much into the videos. If it is mostly the same (few) guy(s) „covering“ the event it explains why you only see relatively few fighters in the clips of such „embedded“ journalists. Also, it may be that it is intended to show rebel numbers as little to impress more. I don´t think that 6-8000 rebels attacked Idlib, but 1,5-3000 is realistic. They don´t have to appear all in one angle to prove that they took part.
      The attacks were multipronged and simultaneous and could not be stopped despite a wave of airforce bombings against the rebels. Taking the pictures and names of rebels KIA during the recent Idlib offensive I guess some 100-150 died, among them some commanders. I am reluctat to think that rebels lost 10%+ of their troops, so I estimate their numbers as mentioned in the above mentioned range.

      • I accept your range number above is realistic. I would tend to guess a number towards the lower end of your range. I think you should be able to agree with me that this number — rougly 2000 armed men — should be regarded as „small“, in a country that contains millions of men of military age, in a battle that had been under planning for more than six months, a battle which as you know involved a conglomeration of nearly all of the larger rebel organizations (excluding Islamic State, as you know).

        Today, 19 May 2015, the rebels took over Syrian army’s fortified camp at Mastouma just outside Idlib city. The army at Mastouma retreated to Ariha. Loads of videos from the rebel side at Mastouma have been uploaded at Youtube this afternoon and this evening, which you can see by a search for المسطومة . I can see only small numbers of rebels involved in this victory. I see little signs of that there was serious battle. From what I’m able to see, the Syrian army retreated without major losses in men. You have said: „I would not interpret too much into the videos“. I respectfully disagree. I say these videos are the best evidence-source that we have about the scale of the operation.

        As another point, I haven’t seen any significant quantity of weapons captured by the rebels from the Syrian army at Mastouma (so far, this evening). Neither did I see any after the fall of Idlib city. This is another indication that the army intentionally and successfully retreated without a fight. You have said: „The [rebel] attacks were multipronged and simultaneous and could not be stopped.“ I don’t have an information basis for disagreeing with that statement. But I emphasize that the Syrian army chose to not fight.

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