It didn’t take long for the Al-Qaeda linked “Al-Nusra Front” (Jabhat Al-Nusra) to launch another offensive geared at the Syrian Government strongholds of Al-Zahra and Nubl; however, not many people expected they would be defeated so quickly and so embarrassingly. The Al-Nusra Front was coming off the successful capture of the long besieged Wadi Al-Deif Base in rural Idlib; they were poised to finally make strides in the Aleppo Governorate.
Unfortunately for the Al-Nusra Front, they weren’t facing just any group at these 2 predominately Shi’I villages in northern Aleppo – they were facing a determined civilian population that refused to flee their homes. The 3,000 men who make-up the National Defense Forces (NDF) in Al-Zahra and Nubl are all homegrown. The only non-villagers fighting at Al-Zahra and Nubl are the 125 Hezbollah fighters who were transported via helicopter in mid-2013.
Initially, the Al-Nusra Front made some gains near the 1st Roundabout inside the village of Nubl, but that was short-lived and quickly repelled after a series of air raids by the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) destroyed a number of Al-Nusra Front reinforcement convoys making their way from Al-Maayer. The Al-Nusra Front was not able to rebound after their initial success; in fact, they began to regress west towards the origin of their attack.
The Al-Nusra Front offensive on the 3 axes took a turn for the worst when they were unable to maintain the industrial plants in the southeast perimeter of Nubl; this allowed for the NDF to begin a flank on the isolated troops at the 2nd axis. With 2 axes in full control, the Al-Nusra Front’s last chance at countering the fierce assault by the Hezbollah and NDF fighters was at the northeastern perimeter of Nubl.
Last night, the NDF and Hezbollah contingents secured the final axis in Nubl, killing scores of Al-Nusra Front fighters during the process of their withdrawal. Over 250 Al-Nusra Front militants were killed and hundreds of others were wounded during this failed offensive. The Al-Nusra Front lost 3 prominent field commanders and 7 tanks altogether during their attack. Little skirmishes are still reported on the border of Al-Maayer; however, this offensive is over.