October 2016 Idlib Governorate clashes

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October 2016 Idlib Governorate clashes
Part of the inter-rebel conflict during the Syrian Civil War
Idlib Governorate with Districts.png
Date4–13 October 2016
(1 week and 2 days)

Ceasefire; Jund al-Aqsa joins al-Nusra Front[5][6]


Ahrar al-Sham

Jund al-Aqsa
Supported by:
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham[2]

 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant[3][4]
Commanders and leaders
Abu Yahia al-Hamawi[9]
(general commander of Ahrar al-Sham)
Muhammad al-Dabbous Executed[10][1]
(Ahrar al-Sham senior commander)
Ali Hilal al-Ahmad Executed
(Ahrar al-Sham commander)[11]
Unknown 1,600 fighters[12]
Casualties and losses
Unknown number of dead, 800 defected[12] Unknown number of dead, 150 defected to ISIL[2]
100–170 fighters killed on both sides[13][14]

The October 2016 Idlib Governorate clashes are violent confrontations between the Salafist jihadist group Jund al-Aqsa and the Salafist Syrian rebel group the Ahrar al-Sham, supported by several other rebel groups. The two groups were previously allied during the 2016 Hama offensive, but sporadic clashes also occurred time by time.[15]

The clashes[edit]

Tensions between the two groups initiated on 4 October, when Ahrar al-Sham captured a Jund al-Aqsa member accused of being a cell for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In response, Jund al-Aqsa militants kidnapped an Ahrar al-Sham member, beat his wife, and shot his brother. Both sides called for the release of their captured members and threatened military action.[15]

The conflict escalated on 6 October, as clashes broke out throughout the Idlib Governorate and the northern Hama Governorate. Jund al-Aqsa captured all Ahrar al-Sham positions in the town of Khan Shaykhun and attacked them in northern Hama, while Ahrar al-Sham expelled the former from Maarat al-Nu'man and 4 other villages in Idlib.[7] 800 fighters from Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham defected to Jund al-Aqsa during the clashes.[12]

As a reaction to the clashes, several other rebel groups signed a statement announcing that they would side with Ahrar al-Sham against Jund al-Aqsa in the conflict. The signatory groups were:[16] Jaysh al-Islam, Suqour al-Sham Brigade, Sham Legion, Army of Mujahideen, Fatah Halab, and Fastaqim Union.

On 8 October, clashes between the two groups spread to a village in Jabal Zawiya,[17] and a senior military commander of Ahrar al-Sham was killed.[10] The next day, in an attempt to end the conflict and find protection, Jund al-Aqsa pledged its allegiance to the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front (also known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham). However, clashes continued in Idlib, after Ahrar al-Sham rejected the move and vowed to continue fighting Jund al-Aqsa.[8]

Two days later, a ceasefire agreement was signed between Jund al-Aqsa, Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Nusra.[5] However, clashes between the two groups soon erupted again in Idlib.[18] In addition, Jund al-Aqsa, along with al-Nusra, reportedly attacked a base of Ahrar Al-Sham in the town of Tahtaya.[19] Meanwhile, 150 Jund al-Aqsa fighters reportedly defected to ISIL as result of the rebel infighting and their group's pledge to the al-Nusra Front.[2]

On 13 October, the general commander of Ahrar al-Sham announced the "end" of Jund al-Aqsa.[6]


On 22 October, Jund al-Aqsa as part of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham attacked Ahrar al-Sham's headquarter in Sarmin.[20]

In January 2017, the al-Nusra Front launched several coordinated attacks against Ahrar al-Sham headquarters and positions in the northern Idlib Governorate, near the Bab al-Hawa Border Crossing. In addition, al-Nusra also attacked Ahrar al-Sham outposts in Darkush and Jisr al-Shughur.[21] On 20 January, Jund al-Aqsa raided an Ahrar al-Sham prison in the Zawiya Mountain and freed 13 of their prisoners.[22] Meanwhile, in the same area, al-Nusra attacked the Mountain Hawks Brigade of the Free Idlib Army, and captured a commander and his equipment.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Combat of Jund al-Aqsa against Military Factions :causes, details & prospects". El-Dorar Al-Shamia. 14 October 2016. Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Fadel, Leith (12 October 2016). "150 rebels defect to ISIS in northern Syria: reports". al-Masdar News.
  3. ^ al-Omar, Saleem. "Islamist Groups Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa Go to War".
  4. ^ "Google Translate". translate.google.com.
  5. ^ a b @hxhassan (10 October 2016). "The agreement between Ahrar al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham to end clashes between the former two" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ a b "qasioun.net". www.qasioun.net.
  7. ^ a b c "Jihadist civil war boils up as jihadists trade blows in Hama and Idlib". Al-Masdar News. 7 October 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Syria extremist group joins al-Qaida affiliate". AP. 9 October 2016. Archived from the original on 10 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  9. ^ "News of the day: Abu Yahya al-Hamwi: Jund al-Aqsa work brings to mind a scene of state regulation". El-Wehda. 8 October 2016. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  10. ^ a b "How kill "jungle pin" hands on "Jund al-Aqsa?"". Enab Baladi. 8 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Ahrar al-Sham commander in Khan Sheikhoun "Ali Hilal al-Ahmad" was among those executed by Jund al-Aqsa today". 7 October 2016.
  12. ^ a b c "Source: hundreds of fighters to leave their factions (Jund al-Aqsa) within two month". All4Syria. 7 October 2016.
  13. ^ Kajjo, Sirwan. "Rebel Infighting Further Complicates Solution for Syria".
  14. ^ "Syria: Tens of Terrorists Killed in Further Infighting between Jund al-Aqsa, Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib". Archived from the original on 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  15. ^ a b "Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa alliance in northern Hama showing cracks". Al-Masdar News. 6 October 2016.
  16. ^ "News of the day: the major factions of the resistance of the Syrian military announced that it stands with the Ahrar al-Sham in the face of Jund al-Aqsa". El-Wehda. 7 October 2016. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Casualties for Ahrar al-Sham during the control of Jund al-Aqsa on a village in the countryside of Idlib". Syria HR. 8 October 2016.
  18. ^ @InsideSourceInt (10 October 2016). "#Syria // #Idlib // Clashes re igniting between JAL and Ahrar now in Idlib after relative calm" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ "Jihadist civil war escalates in Idlib as more groups join the battle". 11 October 2016.
  20. ^ "Tension return between Jund al-Aqsa and Ahrar al-Sham in the countryside of Idlib and shooting in al-Suwaidaa". Syria HR. 22 October 2016.
  21. ^ Al-Hamra (20 January 2017). "Why Al-Qaeda/JFS Is Attacking Ahrar al-Sham: @charles_lister's Take". Medium Corporation.
  22. ^ Leith Fadel (20 January 2017). "Trouble in jihadist paradise as rival factions battle in Idlib". Al-Masdar News.
  23. ^ "Clashes in the countryside of Idlib between the "Brigade Hawks Mountain" and "Front victory"". Nour Radio. 21 January 2017. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 22 January 2017.