Ahrar, Nusra spat draws condemnation as regime advances in Latakia

 The Syrian army in Rabia Sunday. Photo courtesy of SAA Reporter.

A local dispute between two Victory Army factions Sunday that led to a gun battle is drawing condemnation from both leaderships and citizen journalists for distracting from fighting a rapid regime advance in Latakia province.

Neither Ahrar a-Sham nor Jabhat a-Nusra have commented on the underlying reasons behind Sunday's firefight in the town of Salqin, in northern Idlib province, when Nusra fighters captured an Ahrar “services office.”  

The fighting caused one unidentified casualty, reported pro-opposition All4Syria on Sunday.

The groups reportedly reconciled after the incident, with Ahrar spokesman Abu Yazid Teftenaz circulating a copy of the settlement on Twitter. Teftenaz thanked the intervention of unnamed “rational people” for resolving the dispute.

The two factions are the strongest in the Victory Army, formed in early 2015 from a coalition of Islamist rebel groups who managed to capture all of Idlib province that year.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army and its allies are making rapid progress in the northern Latakia countryside, where they captured the village of Rabia Sunday. Rabia is the last rebel stronghold of importance in the province. Its capture will help prevent the southward movement of opposition fighters who periodically fire missiles on Latakia city and other regime-held areas along the coast, reported pan-Arab al-Hayat Monday.

“Their [Jabhat a-Nusra's] banners are in the trash in Selma and Rabia, and they're busy trying to expand their patch of emirate in Idlib,” wrote Mujahid a-Shami, alias of a citizen journalist who focuses on opposition Islamist brigades.

Ammar Hamou

Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011.

Dan Wilkofsky

Dan Wilkofsky was a 2013-2014 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) in Amman, Jordan, where he worked with Talal Abu Ghazaleh Translation and the Ministry of Social Development. He has a BA in Classics (Latin) and Middle East Studies from Brown University.