BEIRUT, LEBANON (03:00 A.M.) – On Thursday the Al-Qaeda affiliated jihadist rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) stormed a base of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Idlib countryside and amid the still raging clashes executed all captives. The surprise attack by HTS targeted the base of the FSA Division 13 in the town Maart al-Numan.
The location of the town is depicted on the following map provided by syriancivilwarmap.com:
The HTS led attack came unexpected and caught the Division 13 off guard. After overrunning the latter’s base with ease the jihadist group started executing their new captives. Among FSA fighters and many officers Colonel Taiser Al-Samahi of Division 13 had also been killed, before FSA reinforcements could reach the area and started to challenge the raiding jiahdist fighters.
Throughout the clashes, civilian residents went out into the streets in protest against HTS and called on them to cease the fighting and leave the town. The jihadist group unconvinced of the proposal opened fire at the protestors thereby killing at least 10 residents of Maart al-Numan as of now.
The FSA not only caught off guard, but also overpowered by the sheer size of the jihadist fighter contingent swarming the town called on Ahrar Al-Sham and Failaq Al-Sham for help. Both groups answered the call by sending a convoy of fighters to support FSA units trying to hold the town and fight off HTS.
This new developments comes after an assassination attempt on the infamous HTS Sharia cleric Abdullah Al-Muhaysni in the night of Wednesday to Thursday this week, took place also in Idlib countryside and left the cleric wounded by gunfire. The attack was conducted by operatives of Failaq Al-Sham as the cleric passed their checkpoint.
These clashes are the preliminary climax of growing tensions and intensified infighting among the opposition groups. But not only is this combat still ongoing, it’s also likely to spread and incite further open fights across Idlib and could lead to a full-out war between the jihadist factions in the area.
The following are extremely graphic pictures of the clashes in Maart al-Numan: