The battle for northern Aleppo has become the most violent front in this Syrian conflict, as the original NDF offensive was later countered by the Al-Qaeda branch in Syria “Jabhat Al-Nusra” (Al-Nusra Front).
On the first day of the offensive, the National Defense Forces (NDF) captured a total of 87 militants from Jabhat Al-Nusra spread across the 4 villages of Hardatineen, Ratyan, Bashkoy, and Duweir Al-Zeitoun.
The following day, Jabhat Al-Nusra revealed that they captured 49 National Defense Forces (NDF) fighters in the town of Ratyan after posting a video of the captured men.
Jabhat Al-Nusra would capture another 18 NDF fighters in the coming days at the villages of Al-Malaah and Hardatineen; this provided the former with a bargaining chip with the Syrian Government.
Despite claims that these fighters were Hezbollah and Syrian Army special forces, a military source confirmed that no “Al-Qawaat Al-Khassa” (special forces)were at the battle – he believes the NDF fighters were forced to state this, along with the 6 other men who stated they were “Hezbollah.”
The father of a captured NDF fighter also confirmed to Al-Masdar News that his son was not inducted in the Syrian Arab Army and that his son joined the NDF after he graduated from the University of Aleppo because he could not find work inside the city.
A third party is working between the Syrian Government and Jabhat Al-Nusra to secure the prisoner exchange between the two parties; however, a source reported the negotiations turned sour on Saturday, following Jabhat Al-Nusra’s demand that all of their captured foreign fighters be released.
Both parties have maintained their end of the bargain by not executing any of the captured fighters – negotiations are set to continue on Sunday morning.