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2014 Idlib offensive
Part of the Syrian civil war
Idlib in Syria (+Golan hatched).svg
Map of Syria with Idlib highlighted
Date5 March – 25 May 2014
(2 months, 2 weeks and 6 days)
LocationIdlib Governorate Syria
Result

Rebel victory

  • Rebels lift the Army siege of Khan Shaykhun and secure the city and its surroundings
  • Rebels cut two supply lines to Army bases in Idlib governorate
  • Rebels capture two towns on the highway towards Maarrat al-Nu'man
Belligerents

Syria Free Syrian Army Islamic Front
Jaysh al-Sham[1]

Al-Nusra Front[2]
Sham Legion[3]

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

Commanders and leaders
Colonel Afif al-Suleimani
(head of Idlib's rebel Military Council)
Jamal Maarouf
(leader of the Syrian Martyrs' Brigade)
Bilal Atar
(leader of Hazzm movement)
Ahmed Abu Issa
(Leader of Suqour al-Sham Brigade)
Hassan Aboud
(leader of Ahrar ash-Sham)
Unknown
Units involved
Ahrar ash-Sham[4]
Suqour al-Sham Brigade[4]
Syrian Martyrs' Brigade[5]
Hazzm Movement[6]
Jund al-Aqsa[7]
Liwaa al-Umma[7]

1st Armoured Division

  • 76th Armoured Brigade
  • Artillery Regiment

7th Mechanized Division

  • 93rd Armoured Brigade

15th Special Forces Division

  • 35th SF Regiment
  • 41st SF Regiment
  • 45th SF Regiment


The 2014 Idlib offensive refers to a series of rebel operations in the Idlib Governorate, during the Syrian Civil War, conducted by the rebels against the Syrian Government. The clashes were mostly concentrated around Khan Shaykhun and on the highway towards Maarrat al-Nu'man.

Rebel offensive

The rebels began the operation on 5 March; three days later it was reported that the rebels were trying to cut the road between Idlib and Al-Mastuma in an attempt to surround the city of Idlib.[8] A day after the report of the offensive the SOHR reported that a commander of an FSA battalion was assassinated by unknown gunmen between the villages of Kafar-Sejna and Al-Rekaya.[9]

Free Syrian Army units and other rebel troops charted moderate gains since the start of their operation. On 12 March, pro-opposition sources claimed the rebels cut the M-5 highway at Khan Shaykhun;[10] 13 days later it was reported that the rebels seized 15 Syrian Army checkpoints in Khan Shaykhun after days of fighting. According to Col. Afif al-Suleimani, head of Idlib's rebel Military Council, the Army withdrew many of its soldiers from Idlib province to reinforce their forces in Latakia province after the 2014 rebel offensive at Latakia was launched against the coastal area.[11] The rebels then advanced towards Khan Shaykhun resulted in both the lifting of the siege of the town and cutting the supply line to Syrian Army bases further north in the province.[12] Also, on 29 March, they reportedly captured parts of the Shiite town of Al-Fu'ah, northeast of Idlib city.[13]

On 4 April, four rebels were reportedly killed by clashes around Sehyan checkpoint north of Khan Shaykhun.[14] It was also reported that Baboulin town and al-Salhiya village were captured by the rebels, thus cutting off the supply route and highway to the Wadi Deif and Hamidiyah army bases at Maaret al-Numan. At least 18 regular soldiers were reportedly killed in the clashes and two tanks were disabled.[15] After Baboulin was captured, clashes took place along a nearby 20-mile stretch of highway between Morek and Maaret al-Numan.[16] A day later, the SOHR reported that the rebels seized a checkpoint at Khan Shaykhoun over night.[17] On 8 April, rebels detonated two suicide cars at the Khazanat fueling base east of Khan Shaykhun, followed by clashes[18] and three days later reportedly took an Army checkpoint at the crossroads of the Heish,[19] but Syrian Army units took it back the next day.[20] Despite this setback, the rebels captured the al-Sayyad checkpoint the same day after heavy clashes with Army units in the southeast of Khan Shaykhoun according to the SOHR.[19]

On 15 April, 21 rebels (including a defected officer and a battalion commander) and a number of Army soldiers were reportedly killed in clashes around Qmenas town.[21] In addition, 6 rebels were killed while no less than 40 were injured, and the connection was lost with 25 rebels after an ambush by Syrian Army units around Al-Hamedya camp[22] It was also reported that the FSA affiliated Hazzm Movement had received 20 TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source".[6]

On 5 May, rebels detonated a 'tunnel bomb' under the al-Sahabh checkpoint in the east of Khan Shaykhoun and captured it. According to the SOHR, about 30 pro-government fighters (including two officers) were killed in the blast.[23] Pro-government sources denied this claim and only reported several wounded.[24] On 14 May, the Wadi al-Deif base was struck by another 'tunnel bomb'.[25] According to the SOHR, tens of pro-government fighters were killed and wounded by the explosion.[26]

On 24 May, according to the SOHR, rebels launched an offensive towards Hish and reportedly captured the Kafr Bassin and Hish intersection Army checkpoints.[27] The next day, six car bombs were detonated by the rebels: Four at checkpoints in the Al Arba’in Mountain area[28] and two at the Khazanat Army base east of Khan Shaykhoun.[29] According to the SOHR, tens of pro-government fighters were killed and injured by the blasts in the Al Arba’in Mountain area[30] and at least 16 in the Khazanat base.[7] The attacks resulted in rebel advances in the Al Arba’in Mountain area[30] and the capture of the Khazanat base.[7] Pro-government sources denied all of this and claimed that the army was advancing in the Al Arba’in area.[31] The following day, rebels captured the al-Salam checkpoint west of Khan Shaykhoun, thus completely securing Khan Shaykhoun and its surroundings, and a checkpoint in the Hish area. Four rebels (including a commander) were killed during the takeover of the Khazanat base on the 25th.[32]

Aftermath

On 7 July, rebels reportedly took the al-Taraf checkpoint west of the al-Hamedya Army base and destroyed a tank at the cost of 6 fighters.[33] Two days later, rebels also captured the nearby Al Dahman checkpoint[34] at the cost of 16 fighters.[35]

On 22 July, fighters from the al-Nusra Front seized the town of Harem from another rebel group after weeks of skirmishes.[36]

References

  1. "The new face of the Syrian rebellion". The Arab Chronicle. 5 March 2014. http://the-arab-chronicle.com/new-face-syrian-rebellion/#. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  2. Bombardment and Human losses in Idlib province
  3. "The Sham Legion: Syria’s Moderate Islamists". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 15 April 2014. http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=55344. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Inside Baseball on Syrian Rebel Infighting". The Washington Institute. 7 February 2014. https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/inside-baseball-on-syrian-rebel-infighting. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  5. Syrian Martyrs' Brigade
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Syrian army enters Homs neighbourhoods". Al Jazeera English. 15 April 2014. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/04/syria-army-enters-homs-neighbourhoods-2014415171150902911.html. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Al-Nusra Front and islamic rebels capture the Khazanat Army base
  8. Human losses in Idlib and Reef Dimashq
  9. Human losses in Suwayda and Idlib
  10. Syria: The Battle Around Khan Shaykhoun
  11. "Syria rebels launch northern offensive after heavy losses". The Daily Star. 25 March 2014. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Mar-25/251260-syria-rebels-launch-northern-offensive-after-heavy-losses.ashx#axzz2xCQsaobJ. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  12. Syria Daily, Mar 23: Insurgents Advance In Latakia and Aleppo Provinces
  13. "Syrians rally in support of rebels’ coastal offensive". The Daily Star. 29 March 2014. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Mar-29/251654-syrians-rally-in-support-of-rebels-coastal-offensive.ashx#axzz2xCQsaobJ. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  14. استشهاد11 مقاتل من الكتائب الاسلامية باشتباكات مع القوات النظامية
  15. مقتل 18 عنصراً من القوات النظامية وإعطاب دبابتين لها بريف ادلب
  16. Rebels take northern town on main highway
  17. تقدم لجبهة النصرة والكتائب الإسلامية والكتائب المقاتلة بريف إدلب
  18. The bombing of a barrier to the regime's forces in Idleb
  19. 19.0 19.1 Advances of rebel brigades in Idlib
  20. شههداء وقصف واشتباكات في ادلب
  21. Heavy casualties in Aleppo and Idlib
  22. https://www.facebook.com/syriahroe/posts/514234348684908?stream_ref=10
  23. نحو 30 قتيلا من قوات النظام في ادلب
  24. http://farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13930216001407
  25. Massive tunnel bomb hits Syrian army base
  26. تفجير في تجمع لقوات النظام بريف معرة النعمان بإدلب
  27. Islamic rebels capture two checkpoint in Idlib
  28. 4 suicide bomb attacks against Syrian army
  29. Two car bombs detonated at the Khazanat Army base
  30. 30.0 30.1 Idlib Province
  31. http://farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13930305000523
  32. Losses of the regime in southern rural Idlib
  33. Ongoing clashes in Homs and the martyrdom of 6 fighters in Idlib
  34. Intense airstrikes on the perimeter of the Al Hamedeyyi base
  35. Martyrdom of about 40 fighters in Idlib and Quneitra
  36. East Damascus hit by fiercest clashes in months

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