On Tuesday morning, jihadist fighters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the ‘Rouse the Believers’ alliance group launched a powerful operation against Syrian Army positions in southeastern Idlib province.
A major Turkish-backed militant coalition mostly made up of Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups claimed to be leading the insurgent assault in Idlib, stating through its official media outlet that it had begun an operation against “several points” of government forces.
In the event, however, the Ankara-backed group known as the National Liberation Front (NLF) was nowhere to be found in the areas that came under attack by jihadist factions, who were left on their own to be annihilated in an assault which backfired with heavy losses and no gains on the ground.
The NLF, despite being backed by a major regional power such as Turkey, is the weakest of all the militant coalitions in Idlib. It is not a matter of opinion or analysis, it is a repeatedly proven reality in clashes with both the Syrian Army and rival terrorist groups.
The group’s fighters – for all their rhetoric – are less motivated, not as well armed and are often bullied by the more powerful jihadist alliance Hayat Tahrir al-Sham who goes on looting sprees, stripping NLF sub-units of their heavy weapons and strategic positions.
The NLF’s claim to possess a standing force of over 60,000 fighters is a blatant fabrication (one could probably divide that number by 10 to get closer to the truth) as much as their claims to be leading an insurgent counter-attack operation against the Syrian Army when it is in fact rival jihadist groups who commit to such undertakings.