Contingents from Jabhat Al-Nusra stormed the heavily fortified provincial capital of the Idlib Governorate, attempting to breach the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) frontline defenses in the western end of the city – the attack was repulsed. Jund Al-Aqsa participated in the attack with Jabhat Al-Nusra; their sleeper cells inside of Idlib City led to the brief infiltration into the western outskirts and the capture of 2 checkpoints near the Corniche.
The attack began at night – around 11:30 P.M. Damascus Time – when militants from Jabhat Al-Nusra committed a suicide attack on a defensive barrier near Mastouma Road, leading to the latter storming a National Defense Forces (NDF) checkpoint in western Idlib. Initially, Jabhat Al-Nusra was successful in taking control of 2 checkpoints on Mastouma Road and infiltrating into Tal Mastouma (Mastouma Hill); however, NDF and SAA reinforcements arrived to forestall the advance and then recapture ground lost to the militants.
According to a military source in Idlib, 4 suicide bombings occurred early this morning, including a woman detonating a bomb near an SAA checkpoint inside the city of Idlib. The source added that a Jund Al-Aqsa sleeper cell was discovered by security forces after radio communications were intercepted inside of the city. The sleeper cell was destroyed and 5 of the militants surrendered themselves to security forces (4 men and 1 woman).
The clashes dissipated around 5:45 A.M. Damascus Time, until Jabhat Al-Nusra regrouped and launched another attack to retake the defensive barriers in the west; it was repelled by the NDF and SAA at 1:00 P.M. Damascus Time.
Jabhat Al-Nusra suffered devastating casualties in their attempt to enter Idlib City; which, was ultimately repelled by the SAA and NDF. According to a military source, at least 70 Jabhat Al-Nusra and Jund Al-Aqsa fighters were killed during the clashes, including 4 imperative field commanders: ‘Abdel-Nasser Barakaat (AKA “Abu ‘Umar Al-Ansari”), Abu Al-Walid Al-Leebi (Libyan), ‘Abdel-Hakim Mohammad, and ‘Abdel-Lateef Mohammad Hijaazi.
The NDF and SAA suffered a total of 21 losses thus far (17 NDF and 4 SAA), including 1st Lt. Mohammad Kurdi of the Syrian Arab Army’s 3rd Army Corps.