The National Army, which operates in the northern Aleppo countryside, announced that it has dispatched units of fighters to repulse an attack by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham in the western Aleppo countryside.
On Wednesday, the official spokesman for the army, Youssef Hammoud, said, “We have dispatched units from all divisions to support the National Army in the western Aleppo countryside in repulsing the aggression of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.”
He added that the number of fighters was “large,” saying that, “The National Front is not in need of equipment, weapons or fighters, but rather a united intellectual and practical position among the leaders.”
Media sources from the western Aleppo countryside told Enab Baladi that units of the 9th Division and 23rd Division arrived to support the Nour Eddin el-Zinki movement on Tuesday.
This comes after Tahrir al-Sham took control over large parts of western Aleppo at Zinki’s expense, most prominently the town of Daraat Izza and the strategic Jebel al-Sheikh Barakat. Daraat Izza’s importance to Tahrir al-Sham comes from the fact that it is among the largest and most prominent areas in the western Aleppo countryside, in addition to its strategic position, given the presence of the highest summit in the north, which is Jebel al-Sheikh Barakat.
Tahrir al-Sham is trying to take control over the Daraat Izza area as a step towards imposing control over the opening connecting Afrin and Idleb province, and thereby force the exit of rebel groups from Idleb to the Euphrates Shield areas.
What has been notable in recent battles is Turkey’s disregard and the lack of participation of other National Front groups alongside Zinki.
However, the commander of Ahrar al-Sham, Jaber Ali Basha, has recently suggested that his group could enter into the fight alongside Zinki.
He said on Telegram that “the National Liberation Front is the most prominent formation in the revolution, and it has brought together under its banner all the factions operating in Idleb, and therefore our collective decision is to defend ourselves and protect our territory.”
He added, “We, in this revolution, came out defending our rights and in support of the oppressed, and do not mind moving collectively in service of this principle. We will not permit the blood of any revolutionary factions to be shed.”
On Tuesday, the two sides (Tahrir al-Sham and Zinki) traded accusations about breaking the deal that had been reached last Sunday to resolve the dispute that had occurred between them after members of Tahrir al-Sham were killed days earlier in the Daraat Izza area in western Aleppo.
A source from the Free Syrian Army had told Enab Baladi on Nov. 26, 2018, that Tahrir al-Sham was trying to take full control over the international highway by turning its attention to Maraat Nouman in the southeastern Idleb countryside, and Daraat Izza in the western countryside of Aleppo.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.