MESOP REPORT : How Assad army lost Idlib?

ARA News – 30 March 2015 – Istanbul, Turkey – In the midst of joy and celebrations that swept the areas held by Syrian opposition forces due to the “Liberation” of the city of Idlib in northwestern Syria, celebrators missed the main factors that led to the fall of the strategic city (Idlib) in four days in spite of the opposition’s failed attempts to take over it during the four years of conflict.

Unity factor

Speaking to ARA News, Ammar Younis, a fighter in the ranks of al-Fatih Army (an umbrella for several Islamist factions, FSA battalions and the al-Nusra Front) who participated in the anti-Assad operations in Idlib, said that he had participated in several previous operations aimed at liberating the city from pro-regime forces, “but the lack of unity, coordination and mistrust among the rebel factions prevented them from liberating the city in previous battles”. Ammar added that the latest operation against Assad troops in the province of Idlib had seen a high degree of coordination between all anti-Assad rebels, and came after they worked under the unified umbrella of the “al-Fatih Army”. “Also, we cannot deny the efficient role of the al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and the rest of the opposition military factions in the last operation,” he concluded.

Unexpected Advance

Mohammed Salloum, a Syrian opposition activist from Idlib, told ARA News that the surprise factor has had a decisive role in this “victory” against the Assad army in the city and its suburbs, adding that the indifference of many pro-regime soldiers inside the city –because they believed the clashes would last for two days and will end as usual– led to the collapse of the Assad army in the area. He pointed out that the last operation saw serious determination and intense fire by the opposition fighters, which led to the loss of more defenses by the pro-Assad army.“So, this was reflected clearly in the psyches of many pro-regime soldiers, especially when they lost contact with a lot of strategic security centers inside and outside the city,” Salloum said.

Exhausted Army

In the meantime, the U.S. military expert George Talen talked to reporters in Washington about the current status of the Syrian regime, emphasizing the role of exhaustion suffered by the Syrian regime forces amid the continuous conflict across the country, adding that this exhaustion was apparent when they lost Idlib two days ago. Talen didn’t rule out a similar collapse by pro-Assad forces at more strategic cities in the near future, “because of the dire situation the pro-regime fighters are currently enduring after four years of continuous fighting”.Noteworthy, the Syrian opposition forces announced Saturday the “Liberation” of the entire city of Idlib. It is the second province regained after Raqqa province, in a conflict that has caused the death of nearly a quarter of a million people so far. Reporting by: Mustafa Hamid – Source: ARA News