Battle of Maarrat al-Nu'man (2016)
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|Battle of Maarrat al-Nu'man (2016)|
|Part of the Syrian Civil War and Inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War|
|Free Syrian Army|| Al-Nusra Front|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Lt. Col. Ahmad al-Saud|
(Division 13 chief commander)
Maj. Mousa al-Khalad
(Division 13 commander)
Zaher al-Ahmad (POW)
(56th Infantry Brigade commander)
Capt. Ali al-Salloum (POW)
(Victory Brigade commander)
(Division 13 media official)
| Abu Mohammad al-Julani|
(Jabhat al-Nusra Emir)
|Entire division: around 1,000 fighters||Unknown|
|Casualties and losses|
|7 killed, 40+ captured||4 killed|
On 13 March 2016, jihadist fighters from al-Nusra Front and Jund al-Aqsa launched an overnight attack against the 13th Division headquarters in the town of Ma'arrat 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.
Division 13 capture
The Division headquarters located in Ma'arrat al-Nu'man was overrun in a nighttime attack by a joint Al-Nusra Front and Jund al-Asqa assault force. Two Division storage facilities that were allegedly filled with the U.S.-built anti-tank TOW missiles were surrendered to the attackers. 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. 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. 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. However, civilians opposed to the takeover took to the streets and stormed Nusra's HQ in the city, freeing some prisoners. A total of 11 combatants died during the clashes.
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".
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. 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.
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