Rebels in “Jaysh al Fateh” at Al Mastoumah.
The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and its allies in the Jaysh al Fateh coalition are claiming to have completely overrun the Assad regime’s forces at the Al Mastoumah military camp in Idlib. The camp was one of the last remaining regime strongholds in the northwestern province.
The jihadists have been promoting the victory on Twitter and other social media. On Al Nusrah’s official Twitter feed for its Idlib operations, the jihadist group said that it and its Jaysh al Fateh allies have fully “liberated” the camp. In other tweets, it said that the regime forces at the camp had retreated and that the road between Al Mastoumah and the regime-held town of Ariha is under its control.
The Islamic Front’s Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-linked group that belongs to Jaysh al Fateh, has also reported victory on its Twitter feed, claiming “dozens of Assad’s forces” were killed. Ajnad Sham, another member organization in the coalition, has said that its forces have destroyed at least two Russian-made BMP’s and a tank in the battle.
According to accounts of the battle, the offensive to take the camp started with a suicide bombing by Jund al Aqsa. A video claiming to show the suicide bombing has been uploaded to YouTube in recent days. Jund al Aqsa is an al Qaeda front group that is heavily comprised of foreign fighters and fights alongside the Al Nusrah Front. After the suicide bombing, the other rebel groups then began the offensive with Al Nusrah Front claiming to have stormed the base from its southern side.
Jaysh al Fateh continues to advance in Idlib. In March, the coalition took over Idlib city. Jund al Aqsa also began that offensive with suicide bombings. Last month, the coalition took over the Al Qarmeed military camp in Idlib, while the “Battle of Victory” coalition, another al Qaeda-led coalition of rebel groups, took over Jisr al Shughur. (For more information, see LWJ reports: Jihadist coalition claims control of Idlib, Al Nusrah Front, allies launch new offensives against Syrian regime, Al Qaeda, jihadist allies declare victory over Syrian regime in key city.)
Photos released by rebels from Al Mastoumah:
Jund al Aqsa commander being interviewed:
Photos showing destroyed regime vehicles:
Photos showing the “spoils” taken by Al Nusrah and Jund al Aqsa:
Al Nusrah touring the base: