A group of regime soldiers reportedly defected from the al-Qiyasat checkpoint in the southern Idlib countryside on Monday following the rebel capture of nearby Ariha last week.
Here, Abdul Rahman al-Idlibi, alias of a fighter with Ahrar a-Sham who participated in the battle for Ariha, talks to Noura al-Hourani about his conviction that regime soldiers in the area have “collapsed mentally” after being convinced “that they're human shields” for those stationed behind them.
Q: In your opinion, what's the reason behind the recent defections and surrenders among regime soldiers in Idlib?
“The soldiers placed at checkpoints know that their fate is death. They've collapsed mentally, they know that they're human shields for those who are stationed at the checkpoints behind them. The al-Qiyasat checkpoint was not particularly large, it was simply a checkpoint to protect the other nearby checkpoints.
The surrenders point to the fact that the Syrian army has become worn out and disjointed.”
Q: What are the remaining important regime checkpoints in the area?
“The al-Qiyasat Basnaqul, Imhambal and Frikeh are the biggest four regime-held points remaining in the province. There are other small points that belong administratively to these larger checkpoints.”