27.8.2014 – Several rebel groups in northern Aleppo formed an alliance and launched a new military campaign to combat the growing threat of the Islamic State in the province Monday, reported pro-opposition news agency Halab News.
“In defense of our people in the north and east of Aleppo and in response to the aggression of [IS] we will repel them…and protect the revolution,” the group said in a statement released Monday announcing its intentions.
The new campaign, called Nahwahran a-Sham in reference to a battle in Islamic history, includes Haraka Hazam, Jeish al-Mujahideen, Liwa Fijir al-Huriya, Filaq a-Sham and Haraka Noor al-Zanki.
The group reportedly has already fought IS along the Turkish border, killing 43 IS fighters – two of whom it claims were American citizens – and taking three captive, according to its social media pages Monday.
Rebels in Aleppo fear that if IS captures the Turkish border crossing of Bab a-Salama in northern Aleppo, they will be effectively cut off from their supply lines.
Meanwhile, at least one source is reporting that IS has sent a large convoy of troops from A-Raqqa to reinforce the IS-controlled city of Akhterin in northern Aleppo following its capture of the Tabqa Military Airport in A-Raqqa Sunday.
A top commander in Jabhat a-Nusra said Monday that Hezbollah is planning a “large attack” against it in the Qalamoun Mountains, while warning of the possibility of a new rebel offensive in Lebanon, according to remarks made to Turkish official news agency Anadolu.
The commander, who refused to disclose his name, noted that such a Hezbollah offensive would spell “death” for the Lebanese army prisoners under Nusra’s control, who were captured during the battle for the Lebanese town of Arsal in early August and transported to Syria days later.
“If we wanted to begin a [new] battle [in Lebanon] we could begin it…but we don’t plan on it currently, so don’t provoke us,” the commander was quoted as saying.
Also in Qalamoun Monday, 22 rebel factions announced the formation of the “East Qalamoun Gathering” to combat regime forces and Hezbollah “following the painful strikes which rebels have been exposed to” in the area, according to an announcement reported by pro-opposition website All4Syria.
Regime forces struck the town of Zabadani Monday, the last remaining rebel stronghold in Qalamoun, just 11km from the Lebanese border, with barrel bombs and heavy artillery, reported pro-opposition sources Smartnews and the Qalamoun Media Center.
An estimated 4,000 FSA fighters regrouped in Zabadani after fleeing regime and Hezbollah attacks in the Qalamoun mountain range, according to pro-opposition JBC News.