October 2016 Idlib Governorate clashes
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.
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, beaten his wife, and shot his brother. Both sides called for the release of their captured members and threatened military action.
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. 800 fighters from Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham defected to Jund al-Aqsa during the clashes.
As a reaction to the clashes, several other rebel groups signed a statement announcing that they will side with Ahrar al-Sham against Jund al-Aqsa in the conflict. The signatory groups were: 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, and a senior military commander of Ahrar al-Sham was killed. The next day, in an attempt to end the conflict and find protection, Jund al-Aqsa pledged its allegiance to the formerly 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.
Two days later, a ceasefire agreement was signed between Jund al-Aqsa, Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Nusra. However, clashes between the two groups soon erupted again in Idlib. In addition, Jund al-Aqsa, along with al-Nusra, reportedly attacked a base of Ahrar Al-Sham in the town of Tahtaya. 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.
On 22 October, Jund al-Aqsa as part of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham attacked Ahrar al-Sham's headquarter in Sarmin.
- 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.
- General Commander For Ahrar Al-Sham: We Announce Today The End Of “Jund Al-Aqsa Gangs”
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- "How kill "jungle pin" hands on "Jund al-Aqsa?"". Enab Baladi. 8 October 2016.
- "Ahrar Rebel commander Dabus Al Ghab killed by Jund Aqsa.". 9 October 2016.
- "Ahrar al-Sham commander in Khan Sheikhoun "Ali Hilal al-Ahmad" was among those executed by Jund al-Aqsa today.". 7 October 2016.
- "Source: hundreds of fighters to leave their factions (Jund al-Aqsa) within two month". All4Syria. 7 October 2016.
- Rebel Infighting Further Complicates Solution for Syria
- Syria: Tens of Terrorists Killed in Further Infighting between Jund al-Aqsa, Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib
- "Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa alliance in northern Hama showing cracks". Al-Masdar News. 6 October 2016.
- "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.
- "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.
- InsideSourceInt (10 October 2016). "#Syria // #Idlib // Clashes re igniting between JAL and Ahrar now in Idlib after relative calm." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Jihadist civil war escalates in Idlib as more groups join the battle
- "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.