Battle of Maarat al-Numan (2016)

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Battle of Maarat al-Numan (2016)
Part of the Syrian Civil War and Inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War
Date13 March 2016

Al-Nusra Front and Jund al-Asqa victory

  • Al-Nusra Front fully captures Maarat al-Nu'man and Khan Shaykhun[1]
  • Majority of Division 13's leaders captured[2]
Syrian opposition Free Syrian Army Al-Nusra Front
Jund al-Aqsa
Commanders and leaders
Syrian opposition Lt. Col. Ahmad al-Saud
(Division 13 chief commander)
Syrian opposition Maj. Mousa al-Khalad[3]
(Division 13 commander)
Syrian opposition Zaher al-Ahmad (POW)
(56th Infantry Brigade commander)[4]
Syrian opposition Capt. Ali al-Salloum (POW)
(Victory Brigade commander)[5]
Syrian opposition Zakaria Quitaz
(Division 13 media official)[4]
Abu Mohammad al-Julani
(Jabhat al-Nusra Emir)[6]
Units involved

Division 13  Surrendered[6]

  • Victory Brigade[5]
  • 56th Infantry Brigade[4]
Entire division: around 1,000 fighters Unknown
Casualties and losses
7 killed,[1] 40+ captured[6] 4 killed[1]

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.[7][8][9]

Division 13 capture[edit]

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.[5] Two Division storage facilities that were allegedly filled with the U.S.-built anti-tank TOW missiles were surrendered to the attackers.[8] 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.[10] 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.[6][5] 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.[11] However, civilians opposed to the takeover took to the streets and stormed Nusra's HQ in the city, freeing some prisoners.[12] A total of 11 combatants died during the clashes.[5]


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".[13]

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.[14] 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.[15]


  1. ^ a b c 11 Fighters killed in clash between the Division 13 and Al-Nusra in the countryside of Idlib and al-Nusra storm Maarrat al-Nu’man and Khan Shaykhun
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Barnard, Mark Mazzetti, Anne; Schmitt, Eric (6 August 2016). "Military Success in Syria Gives Putin Upper Hand in U.S. Proxy War" – via
  4. ^ a b c "Nusra accused of kidnapping FSA commander". Now News. 20 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Division 13 evacuate most of its headquarters in the southern countryside of Idlib and clashes between them against Jabhat Al-Nusra and Jund al-Aqsa in Maarrat al-Nu'man area and tension prevails in the area". Syrian Observatory For Human Rights. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  6. ^ a b c d "MIDEAST - Al-Qaeda in Syria clashes with rebels, seizes weapons". Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  7. ^ Fadel, Leith. "Rebel infighting results in Nusra capturing U.S. manufactured missiles". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  8. ^ a b "Al-Qaida seizes weapons, bases from US-backed Syrian rebels". 680 NEWS. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  9. ^ Fadel, Leith. "Nusra captures Division 13 headquarters in Ma'arat Al-Nu'man". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  10. ^ "Syrian rebel commander says Nusra Front seized 'light weapons and ammunition'". Reuters. 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  11. ^ "FSA exits strategic city in Syria's Idlib after warring with Nusra". 2016-03-14. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  12. ^ "Syria: Maarat al-Numan civilians protest against al-Qaeda's Nusra Front after attack on US-backed rebel group". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  13. ^ Adra, Zen (12 June 2016). "Syrians protest against Nusra in Idlib". Al-Masdar News.
  14. ^ "(Edit Sham) controls the headquarters of the band (13) and Sham Corps in Maart". All4Syria. 8 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Agreement ending the clashes Maart on his head solution band 13". All4Syria. 10 June 2017.