2015 Idlib offensive

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2015 Idlib offensive
Part of the Syrian Civil War
Idlib in Syria (+Golan hatched).svg
Map of Syria with Idlib highlighted
Date24 March – 5 April 2015
(1 week and 5 days)
LocationIdlib Governorate, Syria
Result

Rebel victory

  • Rebels capture Idlib city and besiege Kafarya and Al-Fu'ah
  • Rebel attack on Mastouma repelled
Belligerents

Army of Conquest[1]

Farouq Brigades[2]

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Commanders and leaders

Abu Kamal[3]
(Ahrar ash-Sham Central Area Commander)
Abu Jamil Yusuf al-Qutb [2]
(Ahrar ash-Sham deputy leader)
Abu Abdul-Salam Mudhar Abdul-Salam Hamdoun, Ahrar-ul-Sham commander, later appointed Idlib governor-general Hassan al-Khalifa [2]
(Omar al-Farouq Brigade commander)
Abu Abdullah Taoum [4]
(Ajnad ash-Sham leader)

Nathir Terman [5]
(al-Nusra field commander)
Syria Brig. Gen. Emad Ibrahim[6]
Syria Col. Suheil Al Hassan[7]
Syria Mohamed Khair al-Sayyed[8]
(Governor of Idlib)
Al Hajj Walaa [9]
(Hezbollah commander)
Units involved
Omar al-Farouq Brigade Syria 11th Armored Division
Syria 155th Brigade
Syria Tiger Forces[7]
Strength

5,000–7,000 fighters[10]

  • al-Nusra Front: 3,000 fighters[11]
Unknown

The 2015 Idlib offensive refers to a series of rebel operations in the Idlib Governorate, during the Syrian Civil War. The offensive started with a rebel assault on the capital of the province, Idlib. According to The Economist, the capture of Idlib came about largely because Gulf Arab states "gave more backing to their proxies despite American objections."[12]

The offensive[edit]

Battle for Idlib[edit]

On 24 March 2015, the newly established Fattah Army operation room ("The Army of Conquest") assaulted Idlib city from three sides.[13][14] On 27 March, the rebels managed to penetrate the city. At this point, the city was almost completely encircled by rebel groups, leaving only two exit routes for government forces.[15] The next day, after four days of fighting, rebels captured the city and managed to besiege the towns of Kafarya and al-Fu'a.[16] Syrian government troops regrouped south of the city, and were preparing for a possible attack by rebel forces.[17]

The battle for Idlib left at least 132 rebels,[18] 76 soldiers[14][19] and 11 civilians dead.[2] In addition, 15 prisoners held by the state security services were executed as the Army retreated.[20]

Assault on Mastouma[edit]

Between 28 and 30 March 47 people, including 15 rebels, were killed during a government bombardment of Idlib city,[21] which reportedly included chemical weapons.[22]

On 2 April, the rebels advanced in the area of Mastouma and its military base, where most of the retreated government forces were positioned.[23] The next day, rebels intensified their attacks on three axes[7][24] and further advanced in the Mastouma area,[25] seizing parts of Mastouma during the night.[26] According to rebel sources, Brigadier General Emad Ibrahim was killed in the battle.[6]

On 4 April, the Tiger Forces arrived at Ariha to support the entrenched government troops in and around Mastouma.[7]

By 5 April,[27] after a two-day battle, that was described as a “full-scale assault” on Mastouma,[28] the rebel attack on the military camp and village had been repelled.[29] The initial rebel advance into Mastouma was revealed to be a trap set up by the military, which helped them surround the opposition fighters and engage in street fighting, after which the rebels were pushed back and retreated. The army repositioned on a strategic hill that represents the first defense line for the camp.[29] According to different sources, between 50 and 450 rebels were killed.[28][29] The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported six deaths among government troops.[30]

Aftermath[edit]

Government counterattack[edit]

On 8 April, the military, led by the special forces unit the Tiger Forces, launched a counter-attack towards the villages of Qameenas and Faylan.[31] By 10 April, they had secured the approaches to Mastouma but halted their advance in the outskirts of the two villages after encountering stiff resistance from the rebels.[32]

Four days later, the Tiger Forces and other army units had reportedly breached the rebel defenses and entered Qameenas. According to a military source, Air Force Intelligence intercepted the communications of local Al-Nusra Front commanders who were reportedly in panic over the collapse of their defensive line. Around the same time the Air Force had carried out 51 airstrikes throughout the province.[33]

On 15 April, Army troops went on the offensive near Ariha[34] and captured the villages of Kafr Najd and Nahlaya.[35][36] The military also reached Kurin,[37] with clashes taking place as the troops tried to take over the village.[38]

By 18 April 349 air-strikes were conducted against Idlib city and its countryside since the rebel takeover of the provincial capital on 28 March. The air campaign left hundreds of rebel fighters dead.[39] The same day, the military captured the village of Muqablah, linking up with NDF fighters in the southeastern part of Faylan,[40] and by 20 April advanced to Tell Zahir Al-Mufraq hill.[41] The rebels also withdrew from Kurin due to a lack of support from their main headquarters[42] and the Tiger Forces were soon in the town, but had not yet reached Tell Kurin hill to the west.[41] Five days later, a military source reported the town to be under the control of the Tiger Forces.[43]

Rebel Northwestern Syria offensive[edit]

On 23 April, rebels launched an offensive against the de facto provincial capital of Idlib governorate, Jisr al-Shughur, threatening to cut off government access to a major highway linking Idlib to Latakia.[44] Other objectives in this offensive were the Brick Factory base (near Mastouma) and the Al-Ghaab Plain in Hama governorate.[45]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Al Qaeda and allies form coalition to battle Syrian regime in Idlib". Long War Journal. 24 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Jabhat al-Nusra looks for battlefield breakout". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Ibn Nabih [@IbnNabih1] (24 March 2015). "Image of Ahrar al-Sham Central Area Commander - Abu Kamal - before the storming of #Idlib City" (Tweet). Retrieved 25 March 2015 – via Twitter. 
  4. ^ شبكة عاجل الإخبارية. "The leader of al-Qaeda-affiliated Ajnad al-Sham battalion killed in Idlib". breakingnews.sy. 
  5. ^ "Hassan Ridha on Twitter". Twitter. 
  6. ^ a b archicivilians [@archicivilians] (3 April 2015). "Activists: Brig. Gen. Emad Ibrahim, killed in the ongoing battle in #Mastumeh town in #Idlib Province. #Syria" (Tweet). Retrieved 5 April 2015 – via Twitter. 
  7. ^ a b c d Leith Fadel. "Tiger Forces Arrive at Ariha; Jaysh Al-Fatah Tries to Enter Al-Mastouma". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  8. ^ "Rebels launch full-on assault of Idlib city". Syria Direct. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "مقتل أول قائد ميداني لحزب الله في معركة تحرير مدينة إدلب". Siraj Press. 
  10. ^ An Anxious Wait in Syrian City Held by Insurgents
  11. ^ "Syria Direct: News Update 3-25-15". Syria Direct. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Down but not yet out: What Russian intervention means for the opposition". The Economist. 10 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Syria rebels storm Idlib city in three-pronged attack". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  14. ^ a b Leith Fadel. "Jabhat Al-Nusra Launches a Large-Scale Offensive at Idlib City". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Islamists enter flashpoint city in northwest Syria: monitor". AFP. 28 March 2015. 
  16. ^ Peto Lucem [@PetoLucem] (28 March 2015). "NEW MAP update (March 28): Military situation in #Idlib Governorate. #Syria #SAA #NDF #FSA #IF #Nusra" (Tweet). Retrieved 5 April 2015 – via Twitter. 
  17. ^ "Syria forces regroup after Islamists seize Idlib - Global Times". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  18. ^ "142 بينهم 40 من قوات النظام والمسلحين الموالين لها، و57 مواطناً استشهدوا جراء قصف جوي وصاروخي من قوات النظام وتفجير سيارة مفخخة وتحت التعذيب وسقوط قذائف". المرصد السورى لحقوق الإنسان. 
  19. ^ Leith Fadel. "Zero Hour has arrived in Idlib; battle reaches critical stages". Al-Masdar News. 
  20. ^ "ISTANBUL: Al Qaida affiliate seizes major city in northern Syria - World - The Sun Herald". The Sun Herald. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. 
  21. ^ "151 بينهم 40 من قوات النظام والمسلحين الموالين لها، و45 استشهدوا حرقاً وذبحاً وبإطلاق النار من قبل عناصر تنظيم "الدولة الإسلامية" الذين هاجموا قرية المبعوجة. - المرصد السورى لحقوق الإنسان". المرصد السورى لحقوق الإنسان. 
  22. ^ "Thousands flee Idlib city in fear of army counterattack". Al Jazeera English. 30 March 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  23. ^ "9 people killed in the province of Idlib, and the clashes continue in its countryside". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Archived from the original on 5 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  24. ^ Charles Lister [@Charles_Lister] (3 April 2015). "Jabhat al-Nusra images show fighters involved in bombardment & assault on Al-Mastouma this evening. #Idlib #Syria" (Tweet). Retrieved 5 April 2015 – via Twitter. 
  25. ^ "Intensive clashes break out around the military camp of al- Mastomi in Idlib". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  26. ^ "The Nusra Front and other Islamist factions take control over parts of al- Mastomi village, and a missile kills 4 people in Aleppo". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  27. ^ The Syrian Rebellion Observatory. "SRO - SECOND JAYSH AL-FATAH OFFENSIVE ONGOING AGAINST MASTUMAH ARMY BASE". Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  28. ^ a b Leith Fadel. "Jaysh Al-Fatah Suffers Heavy Losses South of Idlib City; SAA in Full Control of Al-Mastouma". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  29. ^ a b c "Idlib waits for zero hour - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  30. ^ Ahmad. "قتلى من قوات النظام والمسلحين الموالين لها خلال السيطرة على أجزاء من قرية المسطومة". المرصد السورى لحقوق الإنسان. Retrieved 5 April 2015. 
  31. ^ Leith Fadel. "Breaking: Syrian Army Launches Offensive South of Idlib City". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  32. ^ Leith Fadel. "Tiger Forces Offensive Met With Fierce Resistance by Jaysh Al-Fatah in Idlib". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  33. ^ "Tiger Forces on the Fringes of Idlib City". Al-Masdar News. 14 April 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  34. ^ "Syrian Army Makes Fresh Gains in Idlib; Kafr Najd Under Fire Control". Al-Masdar News. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  35. ^ ABC News. "Palestinians Battling IS Group Advance in Syria Refugee Camp". ABC News. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  36. ^ "Syria Direct: News Update 4-16-15". Syria Direct. 16 April 2015. 
  37. ^ Leith Fadel. "Battle Map Update of Idlib: Syrian Armed Forces on the Offensive". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  38. ^ "Syrian Rebellion Obs on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  39. ^ Master. "700 air strikes on Idlib in 20 days". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 19 April 2015. 
  40. ^ Syrian Armed Forces Making Gains in Idlib; Muqablah Captured
  41. ^ a b A Paradox of Events: Syrian Army and Islamist Forces on the Offensive in Idlib
  42. ^ Latif Hassan 20-04-2015
  43. ^ Breaking: Tiger Forces Capture Koreen in West Idlib
  44. ^ "Nusra, allies advance in northwest Syria: activists". The Daily Star Lebanon. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  45. ^ "Jabhat Al-Nusra Unable to Enter the Brick Factory in Idlib". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 April 2015.