Battle of Maarrat al-Nu'man (2016)

On 13 March 2016, jihadists fighters from al-Nusra Front and Jund al-Aqsa launched an overnight attack against the 13th Division headquarters in the town of Maarrat al-Nu'man. According to social media activists in support of the Syrian opposition, Jabhat al-Nusra attacked Division 13 over local protesters and demonstrations.[7][8][9]

Battle of Maarrat al-Nu'man (2016)
Part of the Syrian Civil War and Inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War
Date13 March 2016
Location
Result

Al-Nusra Front and Jund al-Asqa victory

  • Al-Nusra Front fully captures Maarat al-Nu'man and Khan Shaykhun[1]
  • Majority of Division 13's leaders captured[2]
Belligerents
Free Syrian Army Al-Nusra Front
Jund al-Aqsa
Commanders and leaders
Lt. Col. Ahmad al-Saud
(Division 13 chief commander)
Maj. Mousa al-Khalad[3]
(Division 13 commander)
Zaher al-Ahmad (POW)
(56th Infantry Brigade commander)[4]
Capt. Ali al-Salloum (POW)
(Victory Brigade commander)[5]
Zakaria Quitaz
(Division 13 media official)[4]
Abu Mohammad al-Julani
(Jabhat al-Nusra Emir)[6]
Units involved

Division 13  [6]

  • Victory Brigade[5]
  • 56th Infantry Brigade[4]
Unknown
Strength
Entire division: around 1,000 fighters Unknown
Casualties and losses
7 killed,[1] 40+ captured[6] 4 killed[1]

Division 13 capture

The Division headquarters located in Maarat al-Nu'maan was overrun in a nighttime attack by a joint Al-Nusra Front and Jund al-Asqa assault force.[5] Two Division storage facilities that were allegedly filled with the U.S. manufactured anti-tank TOW missiles were surrendered to the attackers.[8] This claim was denied by Division 13 leader Ahmad al-Sa'aoud, insisting Al-Nusra Front captured only 'light weapons and ammunition' and that all of the groups anti-tank missiles and mortars were secured.[10] The Division 13’s depots in Maarat al-Nu'maan and three nearby towns were overrun; Hesh, Khan Shaykhun and Tal Aas. An unspecified number of armored vehicles and a tank were reportedly captured.[6][5][11] Al-Nusra fighters conducted door-to-door searches, ultimately detaining 40 Division fighters including several top leaders of the rebel group. By the end of the battle, Division 13 abandoned all its posts in Maarat al-Nu'man and the bulk of its leadership fled to Turkey.[12] However, civilians opposed to the takeover took to the streets and stormed Nusra's HQ in the city, freeing some prisoners.[13] A total of 11 combatants died during the clashes.[5]

Aftermath

Unrest and civilian resistance against al-Nusra rule continued for coming months. On 12 June 2016, a demonstration took place in Maarat al-Nu'man against al-Nusra's authoritarianism, with protestors calling Abu Muhammed al-Jolani an "Iranian nark".[14]

From 6 to 8 June, clashes broke out between Tahrir al-Sham and Sham Legion in Maarrat al-Nu'man. The 13th Division and the Free Police joined the fighting on 8 June. By the evening of 8 June, HTS captured both the 13th Division and the Sham Legion's headquarters in Maarat al-Nu'man and killed Col. Tayser al-Samahi, the head of the Free Police in the town.[15] On 9 June, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Free Idlib Army and Tahrir al-Sham in the town and the latter ordered the 13th Division to be disbanded.[16]

References

  1. 11 Fighters killed in clash between the Division 13 and Al-Nusra in the countryside of Idlib and al-Nusra storm Maarrat al-Nu’man and Khan Shaykhun
  2. Barnard, Mark Mazzetti, Anne; Schmitt, Eric (6 August 2016). "Military Success in Syria Gives Putin Upper Hand in U.S. Proxy War" via NYTimes.com.
  3. "Nusra accused of kidnapping FSA commander". Now News. 20 July 2016.
  4. "Division 13 evacuate most of its headquarters in the southern countryside of Idlib and clashes between them against Jabhat Al-Nusra and Jund al-Aqsa in Maarrat al-Nu'man area and tension prevails in the area". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  5. "MIDEAST - Al-Qaeda in Syria clashes with rebels, seizes weapons". Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  6. Fadel, Leith. "Rebel infighting results in Nusra capturing U.S. manufactured missiles". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  7. "Al-Qaida seizes weapons, bases from US-backed Syrian rebels". 680 NEWS. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  8. Fadel, Leith. "Nusra captures Division 13 headquarters in Ma'arat Al-Nu'man". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  9. "Syrian rebel commander says Nusra Front seized 'light weapons and ammunition'". Reuters. 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  10. "Al-Qaida seizes weapons and bases from US-backed Free Syrian Army". Mail Online. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  11. "FSA exits strategic city in Syria's Idlib after warring with Nusra". en.abna24.com. 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  12. "Syria: Maarat al-Numan civilians protest against al-Qaeda's Nusra Front after attack on US-backed rebel group". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  13. Adra, Zen (12 June 2016). "Syrians protest against Nusra in Idlib". Al-Masdar News.
  14. "(Edit Sham) controls the headquarters of the band (13) and Sham Corps in Maart". All4Syria. 8 June 2017.
  15. "Agreement ending the clashes Maart on his head solution band 13". All4Syria. 10 June 2017.

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