Blow for Syrian regime as rebels seize Idlib bases

Blow for Syrian regime as rebels seize Idlib bases
2 min read
15 December, 2014
The two key bases of Wadi al-Deif and Hamidiyeh in Idlib province, northwestern Syria, have fallen to al-Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front.
The fight for control of the bases has lasted more than two years [AFP]
Wadi al-Deif and Hamidiyeh, the two largest Syrian army bases in Idlib province, fell to rebels led by al-Qaeda's local affiliate, the Nusra Front, on Monday.

A local activist, Abd Qintar, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that fighters were able to fully secure the Wadi al-Deif base first, before managing to take over Hamidiyeh.

"[All our sources] confirmed [Nusra Front's] full control over Wadi al-Deif," Qintar said. "Al-Nusra were able to use suicide bombers to attack Wadi al-Deif, as well as ten tanks."

Wadi al-Deif lies east of Maaret al-Numan, a major town in Idlib.

Rebel fighters under the Free Syrian Army banner have been fighting for control over the two bases for around two years, but the eventual takeover by al-Nusra, as well as their allies Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa, came after a relatively quick attack.

"The jihadists' advance has major symbolic importance, and it also shows the rebels that al-Nusra Front really is in control of the area," said Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based opposition and monitoring group.
     Al-Nusra were able to use suicide bombers to attack Wadi al-Deif, as well as ten tanks.
- Abd Qintar, activist

US-supported rebels, including the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF), were defeated by al-Nusra in Idlib last month, and lost some of their most important territory, including Jabal al-Zawiya.

In the attack on Wadi al-Deif, "al-Nusra Front used tanks and other heavy weapons that it captured last month from the SRF", Abdel Rahman said.

Arafat al-Hamoud, an FSA colonel who defected from the Syrian army, confirmed the news that al-Nusra had taken over the bases in Idlib.

"The Free Syrian Army worked on liberating [the two bases] ... the bases were liberated by al-Nusra and the other factions, we hope that this success will be beneficial to the Syrian people and the blessed Syrian revolution," Hamoud said.

"[We hope] that it does not benefit agendas that are far from the reality of the Syrian people," he added, referring to al-Nusra's hardline ideology.

Hamoud also confirmed that the FSA is no longer in Idlib.

"The FSA has no effective presence in Idlib, and the factions present, outside of al-Qaeda and the Islamic Front, do not raise the banner of the FSA, and are Islamist," he said.