Posted by Joshua on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
Jabhat al-Nusra’s Offensive in Idlib province and its Attempt to Destroy Washington’s Allies. (November 2014)
Posted by Joshua Landis
The following information about Jabhat al-Nusra’s offensive against the Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front and Hazm Movement in the Jabal al-Zawiya region comes from a well informed source who has been in the area over the last several weeks. The following information about Nusra’s ambitions and movements was relayed by him.
Jabhat al Nusra (JN) continues to advance in the villages of Jabal Al-Zawiya, including AL-Bara , Kansafra, Ehsim, Der Sunbul (Jamal Maaruf’s home town).
Blin, Bluin, Bsqala, Binnish, and Saraqib are under the control of Jund Al-Aqsa, a group loyal to Ayman Al-Zwahiri.
JN has advanced west of the main Damascus-Aleppo highway to Kafr Ruma and east of the highway to Tal Manis, Maarat Shurin along with Filaq AL-Sham brigade.
Nusra also controls Ma`saran village where they are led by, Hamido, a 42 year old local who was a FSA fighter until 10 days ago, when he joined Jabhat al Nusra and became its PR director and local negotiator. JN also captured the villages of al-Tamanah east of the Khan Shakhun area.
JN is in alliance with the Islamic Front and with Suqur al-Sham, a large militia that has been part of the Islamic Front in the past. JN has made a deal with Al-Khansa Liwaa which is led by Ahmad Al-Shaikh, the head of Suqur Al-Sham. He is the head of the Shura council of the Islamic Front. JN has also struck a deal with the Liwa Safwa group from Suqur Al-Sham.
JN also has an alliance with the Ahrar Al-Sham groups : Liwa Al-Abbas based in Bliun and Abu Saleh Al-Tahhan, one of the main military leaders in Ahrar Al-Sham. He helped JN its recent campaign against the Syrian Revolutionaries’ Front and Hazm Movement.
Why is the Islamic Front keen to deal with JN in Idlib?
According to some people on the ground, Ahmad Shaikh, the head of Suqur Al-Sham, is ambitious to become the dominant leader in the area. Jamal Maaruf was his main competitor causing him to team up with Nusra in order to drive out Maaruf. Nusra leaders also accused Jamal Maaruf of being a thug, who was not only corrupt, but who regularly tortured those who opposed him.
Nusra announced that it took all the ammunition and weapons that belonged to the SRF. But in reality they just took 1 tank from Hazem, BMB and ammunition.
The forces of separation قوات الفصل are composed of 15 Islamic brigades which will send troops to keep peace in Jabal al-Zawiya area. They will also be called the ”al-Solh forces. “
They are from
- Jish Al-Mujhadeen
- Nor al Din Al Ziniki
- Filaq Al-Sham
- Firaqa 13
- Liwa Omar al-Mukhtar
- Hazm Movement
- Ahrar AL-Sham
- Liwa Al-Haq
- Syrian liberation Front
- Liwaa al -Awal
- Suqur al-Sham
- Jaysh Al-Islam
A few soldiers from each of these battalions participated in the force but not all of them were serious about their mission. Nusra agreed to their operation, but they were not able to stop Nusra from advancing to other villages.
In regards the mediation effort led by Ayman Haroush and Hassan Dughem and others. They started meetings in the area and consultations between the groups to stop the war between Nusra and the SRF but on the 26 of October. Jund Al-Aqsa arrested Shaikh Muhamd Ezz al-Din Al-Khatab and other 2 judges who accompanied him at the time, and till now, no body know where the Shaikh and others are. Jund Al-Aqsa has refused to release them.
Most of the people who were trying to negotiate with Nusra are now in Turkey. They lost hope in arriving at any understanding. They insist that Nusra was not serious about negotiations. What is more, Nusra is difficult to reach its leaders refuse to use the internet.
According to Nusra’s leader, Joulani, he explained in his recent speech, “We want to finish Jamal Marouf and the SRF since they are dealing with Saudi Arabia and the USA” Joulani said that they’re not alone in this war, meaning that Suqur al-Sham and Ahrar Al-Sham are equally interested in doing away with Maaruf.
Joulani insisted that all other battalions would work with the Nusra. He stated that the US supports Maaruf and the FSA to fight Nusra but not Assad. Nusra is not interested to cooperate with IS in in Idlib province because Nusra hopes to build its own Emirate in Idblib province. Last month they only controlled Salqiin and Harem, but now they control most of the Jabal Al-Zawiya.
Once Nusra captured most of the strategic towns in the area, it announced that it would accept the Sharia court led by Abdulaha Al-Muhaysini, the Saudi Salafi Sheikh. Joulani said that Jamal Maaruf should be under this court until he gives up his alliance with the Syrian Opposition Coalition in Antakia and with Saudi Arabia and the US. http://justpaste.it/hso5
Now Jamal Marouf is in Turkey. He has long meetings yesterday with FSA leaders in Rehanli.
Saddam Al-Khalifa who was a Motorcycle dealer from Hama before the war, is presently the leader of Uqab Al-Islam, a Salafi Jihadi militia, which close to ISIS, but not under its direct command. Al-Khalifa controls the area east of Idlib and Hama. It is largely populated by bedouin who belong to the Al-Mawali tribe among other. Saddam has very good relations with the people there and they trust him. There were Rumors that he would support Nusra but so far the region has stayed out of Nusra’s control.
The Syrian Organization of Human Rights (SOHR) reports that trusted sources claim that “clashes renewed this morning between the fighting battalions around Der Sunbul village, which is the main stronghold of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and around Hantonen near M’rah al-Nu’man.
SOHR also reports that Jund al Aqsa, the group helping Nusra, still hasn’t found the body of its Qatari leader, Abo Abdul Aziz al- Qatari. He was kidnapped in January when fighting first broke out between ISIS and the rebels. The Qatari commander was allegedly killed by the SRF. It is believed that his body was thrown in a local well. Prior to these events, his son was killed by the SAA. Al-Nusra Front published videos that show men retrieving bodies from wells in Deir Sunbul, the hometown of its commander “Jamal Ma’ruf”. Al-Nusra Front, however, claimed that these bodies were those of civilians and fighters executed by the SRF. None were the Qatari leader of Jund al-Aqsa.