Al Nusrah Front, allies strike 2 Shiite towns in Idlib province

The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and its jihadist allies have launched significant attacks targeting two predominately Shiite towns in Idlib province, Fua’a and Kafriyeh. Al Nusrah, Ahrar al Sham and Jund al Aqsa, which is an al Qaeda front group, have released propaganda images from the siege. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the al Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) is also taking part in the operation. All of the groups belong to Jaysh al Fateh, the jihadist coalition that overran much of the Idlib province earlier this year.

Jihadists on social media have claimed that several suicide bombers and/or remote-controlled vehicle bombs have been used. This is likely what the SOHR is referring to in its account when it writes that “4 booby-trapped vehicles” were detonated. “Meanwhile,” SOHR says, “the number of rocket shells launched by [Nusrah] and other Islamist factions has risen [to] 250,” killing and wounding civilians in the process.

For months, the fighting in Fua’a and Kafriyeh has been linked to the conflict in Zabadani, a small city in southern Syria that is close to the border with Lebanon. Bashar al Assad’s regime and its allies, including fighters from Hezbollah, have been laying siege to parts of Zabadani, which reportedly houses a significant number of Nusrah Front fighters and jihadists from other groups. The two sides have negotiated ceasefires in the past, such that pro-Assad forces would halt their operations in Zabadani as long as Al Nusrah and its jihadist brethren backed off in Fua’a and Kafriyeh.

Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group that is closely allied with Al Nusrah, has been responsible for negotiating with the UN and Iran when it comes to Zabadani. Representatives from Ahrar al Sham reportedly met with an Iranian delegation in Turkey to discuss the situation. The talks failed to quell the violence, however.

While the jihadists are advertising their attacks in Fua’a and Kafriyeh, recent Iranian propaganda has focused on the supposed gains made in Zabadani.

Separately, Al Nusrah also claimed earlier today, via one of its official Twitter feeds, that it had launched new operations in the Qalamoun region (along the Syrian-Lebanese border) in order to break the “siege” of Zabadani.

Below are some of the propaganda images published Al Nusrah and Jund al Aqsa from their latest operations in Fua’a and Kafriyeh. The photos are all watermarked with both the individual organization’s logo, as well as the logo for Jaysh al Fateh.

Jund al Aqsa posted this photo of one of its bombings:

15-09-18 Jund al Aqsa bombing

Jund al Aqsa fighters go off to the battle:

15-09-18 Jund al Aqsa fighters go off to the battle

A tank used by Jund al Aqsa during the fighting:

15-09-18 Jund al Aqsa tank being used during the battle

Other images posted by Jund al Aqsa from the battle:

15-09-18 Jund al Aqsa fighting 1

15-09-18 Jund al Aqsa fighting 2

15-09-18 Jund al Aqsa fighting 3

15-08-18 Jund al Asqa fighting 4

Al Nusrah Front has posted these photos from the battle:

15-09-18 Nusrah fighting in Shiite villages 1

15-09-18 Nusrah fighting in Shiite villages 2

15-09-18 Nusrah fighting in Shiite villages 3

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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5 Comments

  • mike merlo says:

    great news. Just another example of how pathetic Iranian Military personnel are & how incompetent Iranian leadership is. I’m sure once the Russians begin having cooperative ground operations with the Iranians information will begin to leak out exposing the Iranians for the incompetents’ that they are. Iranian Bacha Bazi Boyz aficionado Qasem Soleimani has been directly involved in the Syrian Iraqi Theater since 2012 & the results are beyond pathetically laughable. Unfortunately the USA just isn’t clever/cunning enough to just stand aside & allow the Iranians, Hezbollah, Assad & those in Iraq aligned with the aforementioned to just get swallowed up in this fougasse of a sink hole & get shredded & mutilated in the process

  • Paul says:

    Russia has higher moral ground than US in the Syria conflict.

    Amazing, but true

  • Myrddin says:

    This is very interesting:

    Jihadists on social media have claimed that several suicide bombers and/or remote-controlled vehicle bombs have been used.

    On one level it might suggest that the supply of idiots willing to blow themselves up is not keeping pace with demand.

    However, if Nusra and others can now jury-rig vehicles for a one-time, remote-controlled bombing run – presumably it multiplies considerably the number of weaponised APCs, tractors and trucks they can deploy.

    Probably a technical advance the world would be better off for if they had not mastered.

  • Ibero says:

    It seems the defenders of Fuah and Kafriyeh have killed Abu al Hassan Al-Tunisi, a senior AQ operative sent by AQ Central to help JaN and who was participating in the recent assaults on the cities perimeter.
    Good riddance.

    And it’s good to rememeber that, no matter what we think about Syrian regime, this siege is an impending humanitarian disaster. Those two besieged cities harbor around 30-40,000 shiite civilians that would likely face mass murder and rape if Nusrah and its allies manage to break their resistance.

    In the other hand, Zabadani, where Nusrah fighters are holed up near Lebanon, is devoid of civilians (fled out in former ceasefires).

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