Jabhat a-Nusra ‘controls 95%’ of Abu a-Dhuhur military airport

Jabhat a-Nusra reportedly took control of almost all the Abu a-Dhuhur military airbase in the Idlib countryside Tuesday night after a surprise attack on the site, one of the last regime holds in the province. 

Images circulating widely on social media show Nusra fighters inside the airport, and a tweet on the group’s “Badeya Correspondent” Twitter account Wednesday afternoon proclaimed Abu a-Dhuhur “completely liberated,” with more than 100 regime soldiers killed.

“The dust storm played a large role” in the victory, Obaideh al-Omar, an independent citizen journalist in the Idlib countryside, tells Ammar Hamou. Al-Omar has covered past rebel assaults on the airport and is in contact with a group of Idlib journalists covering the ongoing events.

“You can consider the airport liberated.”

Q: Has Jabhat a-Nusra taken complete control of Abu a-Dhuhur military airport?

Jabhat a-Nusra has 95 percent of the airport’s surface area, except for some buildings that Syrian regime forces have holed themselves up in.

You can consider the airport liberated, because the remaining soldiers have no supply lines.

They will either surrender or be killed.

Q: Abu a-Dhuhur has been encircled for a long time, but Jabhat a-Nusra’s win came as a surprise. Why?

For those of us in Idlib, Jabhat a-Nusra taking the airport did not come as a surprise. The regime was surprised by Nusra’s battles at the airport because it believed that the reinforcements and preparations were for the Shiite [towns of] al-Fuaa and Kafariya.

Jund al-Aqsa previously stormed the airport’s main gate, surprising regime forces and taking control of approximately 20 percent of it.

The dust storm that Syria experienced in recent days had the biggest role in advancing on and infiltrating the airbase with light weaponry.

Q: What are the details of the latest attack and when did it begin?

The dust storm played a large role and [Nusra’s] raid of the airport began two days ago from the east, which is the weak flank of the airport.

Ammar Hamou

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

Mateo Nelson

Mateo Nelson was a 2014-2015 fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program (CASA I) in Amman, Jordan. Mateo holds a BA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University, with a certificate in Arabic Language and Culture.