Thursday, June 30, 2016

The FSA/Al-Qaeda Capture of Kinsabba

On July first, the FSA First Coastal Division, in coordination with Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda Syrian wing) and Ahrar al-Sham captured the strategic town of Kinsabba, Latakia. This is the first major rebel gain in Latakia since Russia intervened in late 2015.

The assault began at night and continued until the morning, seeing the capture of the surrounding hills and then Kinsabba itself. The attack was well coordinated. It began with shelling of the town followed by it being stormed by Nusra and Ahrar.

The First Coastal Division targeting Kinsabba with Grad rockets.

Ahrar al-Sham targeting the town with a ZPU-2.

FSA Central Division firing on Kinsabba.

Jabhat al-Nusra firing on Kinsabba.

Jabhat al-Nusra firing on the town, by now it is early morning.

First Coastal Division.

After shelling the town, Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham stormed it.

Jabhat al-Nusra officially announce the capture of Kinsabba.

The FSA First Coastal Division film from inside Kinsabba after its capture.

The FSA First Coastal Division film their companions, Jabhat al-Nusra, on a BMP-1 in Kinsabba.

More Nusra fighters filmed by the FSA inside Kinsabba.

Several tanks and other equipment were left behind by the retreating Syrian Arab Army and National Defense Force.

T-55s now flying the Jabhat al-Nusra flag.

One of the three T-55s when it was first captured by Ahrar al-Sham.

T-55s when they were first found by Nusra

The capture of Kinsabba is quite a setback for the Syrian armed forces. It also clearly shows cooperation between US backed moderate forces and Al-Qaeda. There are reports of the Russian air force striking the town after its capture, so it is possible the rebels could be compelled to retreat. If they don't, and the Russian air force doesn't step in again, they will likely advance further.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Moderate Rebel/Jihadist Offensive on Latakia

On June 27th several rebel groups launched a massive offensive in Jabal Turkmen and Jabal Akrad,
Northern Latakia. Initial reports indicated the rebels gained a significant amount of territory, but later reports cast doubt on these claims. Among the groups participating were radicals like Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party. "Moderate" groups like Faylaq al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army also participated in the battle alongside the radicals.

Jabhat al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda) spearheaded the assault as usual, along with Ahrar and TIP. Notice the Jaish al-Fateh logo along with the usual Nusra media logo.

Nusra T-55AM:

D-30 122mm:

S-60 57mm:

Ahrar al-Sham was another major player in the offensive. Notice they also include the Jaish al-Fateh logo in their media release.

ZSU-23-4 Shilka:



S-60 57mm:


M-46 Field gun 130mm:

The Turkistan Islamic Party threw in a large number of troops and improvised Artillery. TIP has links to both Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Rocket artillery:

TIP troops moving toward the front:

Moderate rebels played a fire support role for the radical groups. The FSA used its US/Saudi supplied TOW missiles, as well as artillery and technicals. Faylaq Al-Sham mostly used mortars and rockets in the offensive.

Faylaq al-Sham Type 63 multiple rocket launcher:

Improvised rocket:

Faylaq al-Sham hit a tank with a Kornet ATGM. It appears to be a T-72. The tank doesn't burn after it is hit.

Several FSA groups participated in the offensive alongside the extremists. The First Coastal Division used rocket artillery and US/Saudi supplied TOW missiles. Photos of the First Coastal Division assault:

Rocket artillery:


Fagot ATGM:

TOW anti-tank guided missile:

One TOW missile narrowly misses a van carrying Syrian Army/National Defense Force troops. The van is seen speeding away as the smoke clears.

The FSA Second Coastal Division, with a ZU-23-2 and its 23mm ammunition:

Type 63 MRL:


The FSA group Jaish al-Izza.

D-30 122mm:

Jaish al-Izza hit a T-55 with a TOW missile, destroying the tank.

The last FSA group known to have participated in the offensive is Jaish al-Nasr.

Jaish al-Nasr D-30 122mm:



The "moderate" rebels will continue to work alongside radicals no matter what foreign powers do at this point. No matter how many weapons are supplied to "moderates" they will never turn on the radicals, as many analysts have suggested. There are no true moderate rebels in Northern Syria, from Idlib, Latakia, Hama, or Aleppo, all of the groups work together. When moderate groups work with  radical groups, they should be considered radical.

On another note, rebels went All in for this Latakia offensive. If it truly fails, it will be quite a humiliation for them.