Jaysh al-Fatah led forces take Latakia town of Kinsabba

T-55s captured in Kinsabba. Source. 

On 27 June, rebel forces in Latakia launched an offensive on both the Jabal al-Akrad and Jabal Turkman fronts. The assault was led by a number of Jaysh al-Fatah member groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Sham, but also included locally active FSA outfits, such as the 1st Coastal Division, Jaysh al-Izzah, Jaysh al-Tahrir, Jaysh al-Nasr and others. Rebel sources claimed that atleast twenty five different factions were involved, ranging from secularists to foreign jihadists. Loyalist forces in the area include the SAA, the Desert Hawks, the SSNP Eagles of the Whirlwind militia, as well as local NDF militias. The fighting in Latakia largely takes place along the M4 highway, which connects the city of Latakia, on the coast, to Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib.

The situation as of 3 July. Source.

On 30 June, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and other rebel groups reached Kinsabba, the largest town in this northern part of Jabal al-Akrad. Loyalist forces retreated from the town, leaving significant amounts of equipment behind, including several tanks and BMPs. Kinsabba had been taken by the government in February 2016, during the most intense period of Russian Air Force bombardment during the war. Rebel forces also seized the handful of towns circling Kinsabba, such as Hamrat, Shilif, and Wadi Basur. To the west of the M4 highway, the offensive claimed several mountaintops, including Jabal Qamou, Jabal Qal'ah, and Jabal Abu Ali, as well as the towns of Ayn al-Ashara, Beit Janawru, Ayn al-Bayda. Much further west into the Jabal Turkmen region, rebels captured the town of Saraf.

Since the beginning of July, the new frontlines have largely solidified. The town of Saraf in Jabal Turkman has traded hands and is now reportedly under loyalist control. A loyalist counter-offensive was launched on 8 July, and succeeding in retaking Shilif, to the southeast of Kinsabba.

A list of equipment captured in Kinsabba. Source. 

A translated Jabhat al-Nusra statement on the offensive. Translation source here.

 

Collection of videos from the offensive

Loyalist NDF militia video

Ahrar al-Sham, Jabal Akrad, 28 June.

Jabhat al-Nusra video on the 'liberation' of Kinsabba.

1st Coastal Division tour of Kinsabba.

Ahrar al-Sham footage from battle for Kinsabba.

Jaysh al-Fatah shelling loyalist forces in Kinsabba.

1st Coastal footage of cluster bombs being dropped.

Faylaq al-Sham TOW hit

Jaysh al-Nasr

Turkistan Islamic Party

Jaysh al-Fatah renew Southern Aleppo offensive

Still from Jabhat al-Nusra video. Source.

On 3 June, the Jaysh al-Fatah rebel coalition, along with Jund al-Aqsa and FSA al-Furqa al-Wusta (Central Division), launched attacks on loyalist-held territory in Southern Aleppo. This renewal of the past months' offensive targeted towns to the south and east of Khan Touman (captured last month). A handful of villages and towns surrounding Khan Touman were taken, including al-Qarassi, Humayra, Qal'ajiyah, Ma'rata and an Army Fuel Storage Base and Munitions Storage Base outside Ma'rata. The taking of the Fuel Storage Base brings the groups operating on the Khan Touman front within 6km of opposition-controlled Eastern Aleppo City. Further advancement in this direction would both create a second supply route for rebels within the city, taking pressure off the frequently bombarded Castilo Road and would cut off the loyalist-controlled Western Aleppo from the rest of government territory.

The town of Khalasah south of Humayra was reported taken within the first day of fighting, but videos came out days later showing fighting still going on. Directly to the west, Ajnad al-Sham claimed that loyalist forces initially retreated from the town of Zaytan. It appears that rebel forces initially moved in, but were subsequently forced out due to Syrian and Russian aerial bombardment and shelling.

The offensive was led by Jabhat al-Nusra, who employed multiple SVBEIDs across the front. Jabhat al-Nusra appears to have become the most significant actor within the Southern Aleppo front, frequently spearheading assaults with suicide attacks followed by the deployment of tanks and armored personnel carriers. Nusra's media department, al-Manara al-Bayda, publishes multiple high definition videos of a given battle, utilizing drone and GoPro footage.

On the loyalist side, the Southern Aleppo front is predominantly defended by Afghan and Iraqi Shia militias, such as Liwa al-Fateyimoun, Hashd Shaabi, and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba. Rebel forces reported their capturing of tens of such fighters.

 

Jabhat al-Nusra video from the offensive.

Faylaq al-Sham video from Humayra.

IS split rebel Azaz pocket

screenshot from IS video "progress in the battles in the OUTSKIRTS of Azaz."

A 26 May Islamic State attack on rebel territory led to the successful capture of multiple northern Aleppo villages, including the strategic towns of Kafr Kalbin and Kaljibrin. These two towns are on the Azaz-Mare' road, and their capture resulted in the cutting in two of the Azaz pocket. In order to more effectively defend the now isolated town of Mare', rebel forces handed over Sheikh Issa, the town to the west, to the Syrian Democratic Forces. Thousands of civilians, including residents of IDP camps, have fled either to the territory immediately surrounding Azaz, or into PYD-run Efrin Canton. They have not been allowed into the town itself, due to fear of IS sleeper cells, who appear to have played a significant role in the recent offensive.

Islamic State media has published photos and videos of the weapons and equipment they've siezed from multiple rebel groups, including those categorized as "Vetted Syrian Opposition," such as Jaysh al-Mujahideen and Division 13. They specifically show a captured crate of artillery shells bought by Saudi Arabia from Bulgarian company Aheloy-opm. Islamic State media has also highlighted the presence of American A-10s operating in the area.

Rebel fighters have since recaptured Kaljibrin, but their attacks on Kafr Kalbin have been defeated. Islamic State attacks on Mare' have continued. Almost all civilians within the town have fled into Efrin Canton, some heading to Azaz.

captured ak-47s, still in their wrappers. Screenshot from "...Outskirts of Azaz."

A captured crate of Artillery shells. Screenshot from "...outskirts of Azaz."

A view of Azaz, from Efrin Canton. Islamic State controlled Territory can be seen in the background. Source.

A timeline of the events in northern aleppo, created by reddit.com/u/poutchika. Source.

Map of the Split Azaz Pocket. Source.

Jabhat al-Nusra and rebels capture Hama town, allegations of atrocities

al-Nusra aerial photo of Zara. Source. 

On 12 May, the rebel Northern Homs Operations Room captured the Hama village of Zara, partially populated by members of the Alawite sect, from the local NDF outfit. The Operations Room is made up of Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Ajnad al-Sham, Faylaq al-Homs, 'Ahl al-Sunnah wa'l Jamaa'a, as well as other small local groups and is active in the northern parts of the Rastan pocket of Northern Homs/Southern Hama. The attack follows an agreement reached two days prior between local FSA coalition Harakat Tahrir Homs and the SAA, which led to the loyalist withdrawl from the town of Jarjisah, northeast of Zara.

Official logo of the Northern Homs Operations Room. Source.

Following the taking of the town, reports came out of the killings and abductions of many of Zara's Alawite civilians. Both Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra press releases displayed the dead bodies of Zara residents, though it is unclear whether they were armed or not. While not much verified information has subsequently come out, pro-rebel sources the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the official Facebook page of the Local Coordination Committies have condemned reported on and condemned these actions. Member groups of the Northern Homs Operations Room have since claimed that the civilians were armed members of the NDF militia.

A map showing the fighting around Zara. Source.

The Levant Front publishes multiple TOW videos from fronts across Aleppo

On 10 May, the local Aleppo faction Jabha al-Shamiyya, or the Levant Front, published eleven different videos of TOW strikes on government targets. The Levant Front's use of TOWs is a relatively new development, and coincides with the group's use of FSA branding over the past several months. Previously, the group was an indepedent, moderately-Islamist group, fighting alongside an ideologically diverse host of allies. The group's official Twitter account profile picture (see: below, right) now includes the revolutionary flag, as well as the old Levant Front logo inside a 5, representing the 5 years since the uprising. The Levant Front's press releases now include the official Free Syrian Army header. In the videos released on their official Youtube channel, one can see the old Levant Front logo, the revolutionary flag, and the Fatah Halab coalitions room logo. The shift towards FSA imagery and the use of TOWs is likely no coincidence, as aligning itself with the FSA image is beneficial in recieving international support.

LEVANT FRONT'S TWITTER PROFILE PICTURE TWITTER.COM/SHAMFRONT11

The Levant Front began as a coalition of several of the most important non-FSA factions based out of Aleppo, including Liwa al-Tawhid, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, Fastaqim Kama Umirt and Jaysh al-Mujahideen, in late 2014. This coalition soon split apart, though the former Liwa al-Tawhid elements continued to use the name and logo. The Levant Front is now one of the most significant rebel factions in Aleppo, active in the Azaz pocket, the northern and western suburbs of Aleppo, as well as the southern Aleppo front, from Khan Touman to al-Eis. Ideologically, Liwa al-Tawhid had ties to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Due to its very local nature, it can probably be assumed that Levant Front membership includes a range of ideological orientations, from democrats to more hardline Islamists.

The locations of Levant Front activities over the past several months. Source.

The locations of the Levant Front's recently posted TOW videos. Source.

Video of TOW shot in the al-Zahraa district, published on 10 May.

Video of TOW shot in al-Humayra, southern Aleppo, published on 10 May.

Jaysh al-Fatah coalition capture Khan Touman in southern Aleppo

Still of a vbied explosion from the Jabhat al-Nusra video below.

On 6 May, the Jaysh al-Fatah rebel coalition, led by Jabhat al-Nusra, captured the southern Aleppo towns of Khalidiya and Khan Touman. The attack began with VBIED strikes, such as the one shown below, filmed by a Jabhat al-Nusra operated drone. Rebel groups had previously failed to capture the towns over a month ago, during the same offensive the resulted in the taking of al-Eis. The town was reportedly mostly garrisoned by members of the Aghan Shia Liwa Fatemiyoun and Iraqi Shia Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba militias. Two Syrian soldiers were captured, one of whom has since been executed by members of the Turkistan Islamic Party.

Khan Touman is just 15km southwest of the rebel-controlled parts of Aleppo city. These parts of Aleppo are connected to the rest of rebel territory by Castilo road to the north, which frequently falls under attack. Hypothetically, if rebel forces were able to advance north and east of Khan Touman, they could open up a second supply route into the city.

map of the attack. source (pro-rebel).

This success comes after Jaysh al-Fatah, the coalition largely responsible for 2015's conquest of Idlib, announced its return. Faylaq al-Sham recently rejoined the coalition, as jihadist outfit Jund al-Aqsa departed (Faylaq al-Sham allegedly left due to discontent with Jund al-Aqsa. The ethnically-Uighur (Turkic Muslims from Xinjiang, China) Turkistan Islamic Party is also now a member. Despite leaving Jaysh al-Fatah, Jund al-Aqsa was still a part of this attack, coordinating through either Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Turkistan Islamic Party.

 

A graphic depicting the new Jaysh al-Fatah roster. Source.

Groups involved in the fighting around Khan Touman, including the FSA group Jaysh al-Nasr. Source (pro-rebel).

The two captured SAA soldiers. The one on the right has reportedly been executed. Source.

Turkistan Islamic Party shows off weapons captured at Khan Touman. Source.

 
 

Northern Aleppo update

Over the past month, rebel factions and the Islamic State have been fighting back and forth on the North Aleppo pocket's eastern frontlines. On 7 April, a coaltion of rebel forces supported by Turkish artillery and U.S. air support captured the town of al-Rai and its border crossing to Turkey. This rebel coaltion included local CIA-vetted FSA groups, such as Sultan Murad, Division 99 etc. and local and national independent Islamist factions, including Jabha al-Shamiyya and Ahrar al-Sham.

An Islamic State counterattack retook al-Rai on 11 April, as well as a number of towns to the west. In an attack during the next week, IS briefly managed to split the rebel pocket in two by taking the town of Hawar Kilis. This attack threatened large camps set up for Internally Displaced People, causing upwards of 30,000 people to flee further west. This attack was eventually repulsed by rebel fighters, who managed to secure Hawar Kilis along the border. Slightly further east, the ethnically Kurdish town of Dudiyan has changed hands multiple times. As of 2 May, it was reportedly under Islamic State control.

On 3 May, after being repeatedly targeted by Turkish shelling, Islamic State imams in the area announced declarations of war against Turkey, threatening the nearby cities of Kilis and Gaziantep.

Also over this period, fighting between the Islamic State and rebel groups around the town of Mare' havs been consistent. Similarly, border skirmishes between rebels and the Syrian Democratic Forces have occurred to the west, over the same time. On 28 April, following a failed rebel assault on the small city of Tel Rifaat, some members of the SDF paraded forty dead rebel bodies through Efrin city streets, causing minor controversy and condemnation by Kurdish leaders.

 

[top left: fighting outside Mare', 4 April. Source. right: IDP camps in Northern Aleppo. Source.]

(Above) The situation in Northern Aleppo, as of 1 April. Since then, IS has claimed to have taken the town of Dudiyan. Source.

Shamarin IDP camp after being evacuated due to the IS threat. Source.

Faylaq al-Sham fighters in Dudiyan, late April. Source.

A UAV image posted by the Operation Inherent Resolve Coalition's twitter account. Source. 

Furqat Sultan Murad video of a TOW hit on an IS target, outside the town of Kafr Ghan. 

Furqat Sultan Murad video of a TOW hit on an IS target. 

IS attack SAA positions east of Khanaser

An SAA tank left behind. Source.

Islamic State launched an attack on loyalist forces in southern Aleppo, on 15 April, taking around a dozen villages. This assault occurs while the government and its allies are fighting rebel forces on multiple fronts in Aleppo. This IS attack threatens the supply road, running through the town of Khanaser, that connects Aleppo to the rest of government-held territory. A similar IS attack on the road occurred over a month ago, and took weeks to fully defeat. Islamic State media sources have shown off a wide array of Iranian-made weapons and ammunition plundered, as well as the personal effects of Iranian combatants. IS also publicized the taking of an Iraqi Shia prisoner, from the Harakat al-Nujaba militia.

IS captured Iranian personal effects. Source.

Jabhat al-Nusra repels loyalist attack on al-Eis

Fighting between loyalist and rebel forces in southern Aleppo continues, particularly around the town of al-Eis. On 12 April, pro-government forces launched an attack on the town, only to be beaten back by Jabhat al-Nusra. The loyalist force was made up of Hezbollah, Iraqi Shi'a militias such as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, Afghan Shi'a militia Liwa Fateyimoun, and potentially Iranian Army special operations brigades recently deployed to Syria. Pro-government sources reported that they were able to take parts of the town, but failed to take the hill to the south and were forced to retreat. Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel factions released multiple videos and photos after the attack, showing dead loyalist soldiers, including one who had been beheaded. One al-Nusra video, shot with a drone, shows the loyalist force fleeing the town and retreating east to al-Hader (see below).

Jabhat al-Nusra drone footage of the loyalist retreat.

The crosshairs mark the road taken by retreating loyalist forces. Screenshot from Wikimapia.

IS counter offensive retakes al-Rai and other north Aleppo towns from rebels

Islamic State fighters in Al-Rai, 11 April. Source.

On 9 April, the Islamic State began a counter-offensive against rebel forces in northern Aleppo. The Turkish backed rebel force had taken the border town of al-Rai from IS on 7 April. This left rebel forces stretched out to the east across the Syrian-Turkish border. On the 9th, IS forces launched attacks on rebel territory further west, including the rebel stronghold of Mare', and managed to take several villages closer to the border, such as al-Sheikh Rih. Islamic State news platform A'amaq Agency reported that eight rebel fighters were taken as captives.

Following these attacks on towns close to Mare' and Azaz, IS launched attacks on al-Rai and other towns that had been captured by rebel forces in the past week. As of 11 April, Islamic State fighters had reconquered about half of the territory they had recently lost.

Northern Aleppo, 11 April. Source. 

Jaysh al-Islam declares one of its commanders used "unauthorized weapons" in Aleppo

Map of Aleppo. Source (edited).

EDIT: It appears that the press release was referring to 122mm Grad rockets, not chemical weapons.

In a 7 April press release, rebel Islamist faction Jaysh al-Islam stated that one of its field commanders used "unauthorized weapons," while fighting YPG/YPJ forces in Aleppo city. While not explicitly stating what the weapons were, Kurdish sources have reportedrebel use ofchemical weapons in their bombardment of Sheikh Maqsud, an ethnically Kurdish neighborhood in Aleppo.

Sheikh Maqsud is the only territory administered by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party outside northeastern Syria and Efrin Canton. Over the last several months, the neighborhood has been subjected to what appears to be indiscriminate bombardment by various rebel factions, reportedly resulting in many civilian deaths.

Translated version of the Jaysh al-Islam press release. Source. 

Over the last week, street fighting between the YPG/YPJ and various rebel factions appears to have escalated, particularly around Castillo Highway, the road that connects rebel-held Aleppo to the rest of rebel territory. The commander of the FSA Northern Division (made up of Liwa Fursan al-Haq and the 101st Infantry Division) was killed two days ago, while the YPG lost a military commander the same day. SAA airstrikes have been reported in the vicinity of fighting, leading to further rebel accusations of the PYD and its militias being allied with the Government.

 

Syrian Turkmen rebels bombing the Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud in Aleppo.

FSA Suqour al-Jebel fighting against YPG/YPJ forces near al-Castillo road. 

Rebel forces take border town al-Rai from IS

Rebel fighters pose in the center of al-Rai. Source.

On 7 April, it was reported that the rebel assault on the Islamic State-held town of al-Rai and its border crossing were successful. The town was one of the last border crossings IS held with Turkey. The assault included multiple FSA-affiliated groups, such as Liwa Sultan Murad, the 99th Division, Liwa al-Hamza, and Liwa al-Moutasem, as well as Turkish-backed independent factions, such as Faylaq al-Sham. Interestingly, Ahrar al-Sham has published photographs and videos of their involvement in the attack, on social media, despite previously not publicizing its role in the North Aleppo border campiagn. It appears that Turkey allowed Ahrar al-Sham's 'Central Force' to travel through across the border to join in the assault of al-Rai. The campaign along the Syrian-Turkish border has been supported by both Coalition airstrikes and Turkish artillery bombardment. Following the success in al-Rai, rebels pushed the Islamic State out of the village of al-Waqf, directly to the south. FSA Liwa al-Moutasem has stated their lofty aims to liberate Akhtarin, al-Bab, and Jarabulus, but it remains unclear exactly which direction the offensive will go next. It can be speculated that, due to Turkish artillery support, the rebels will continue east towards Jarabulus, the last border town IS controls.

Map of northern Aleppo, with recent rebel gains shaded in. Source (edited).

Faylaq al-Sham fighters during the assault on al-Rai.

Rebel groups reportedly begin assault on IS border town of al-Ra'i

North Aleppo, 4 April 2016. Source.

It appears that the rebel Hawar Killis Operations Room has begun its assault on the Islamic State-held north Aleppo border town of al-Ra'i. Coalition air strikes, as well as Turkish artillery bombardment, were reported targeting IS positions in the area, throughout the day of 5 April. The rebel forces involved include both FSA groups, such as the likely-U.S. supported Liwa al-Moutasem, and independent factions, such as Faylaq al-Sham.

FSA Division 99 taking the village of Tel Ahmar, earlier in the day

Jabhat al-Nusra publishes video of captured pilot

Jabhat al-Nusra's media network 'The White Minaret,' has published a short video regarding the Su-22 shotdown earlier today. It shows both the crash site and a brief interview with the pilot, verifying earlier reports that they had captured him. The pilot is reportedly Col. Squadron Commander Khaled Saed, from Latakia (source has editorialized the news).

In other related news, it's appearing more likely that it was Ahrar al-Sham who shot down the Su-22, using MANPADS. Ahrar al-Sham has allegedly had the surface-to-air weapons systems for more than six months, using them to shoot down an SAAF plane on 13 March. It's not clear whether they got them from a foreign supporter, or through a fellow rebel group with foreign backing.

Jabhat al-Nusra senior official killed by targeted airstrike in Idlib

On 3 April, Abu Firas al-Suri, a senior member of Jabhat al-Nusra and longtime al-Qaeda veteran was killed in a U.S. drone strike. Abu Firas was in a meeting with other al-Nusra commanders in the town of Kafr Jalis, just north of Idlib city. He was a Syrian native who had been involved in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood uprising of the late 1970s. In the early 1980s, Abu Firas travelled to Afghanistan to partake in the war against the Soviet Union. There he met Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, and helped establish Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization closely linked to al-Qaeda. Abu Firas spent the decade after the 9/11 attacks in Yemen. He returned to Syria when the Jabhat al-Nusra-ISIS fitna broke out, and remained with Jabhat al-Nusra since. While he was clearly important enough for the U.S. to target, his death will most likely not disrupt Jabhat al-Nusra operations.

Abu_Firas_al-Suri.png

Syrian Su-22 downed in south Aleppo, pilot captured.

Image of the Su-22 hitting the ground. Source.

Image of the Su-22 hitting the ground. Source.

Around noon (Damascus time) on 5 April, it began being reported that a Syrian Arab Air Forces Sukhoi 22 had been shot down near al-Eis, southern Aleppo. Since then its been confirmed that the pilot safely ejected, and was taken captive upon impact, allegedly by Jabhat al-Nusra. Videos show hundreds of civilians and soldiers rushing to find the pilot. SAAF pilots are notoriously hated by rebels and their civilian supporters.

So far it is being claimed that Ahrar al-Sham shot down the plane, but it is not known what type of weapon was used. Following the reports, Brookings Institute analyst Charles Lister highlighted the rebel possession of MANPADS (surface-to-air missiles), saying they were likely used in the 16 March downing of a SAAF plane, and were possibly used here. Rebel groups have recieved small numbers of them throughout the war, with a new batch arriving after the beginning of the Russian intervention.

Photo from the crash site. Source.

Photo from the crash site. Source.

Footage of the plane crashing, and the pilot captured on the ground.

Rebels capture several towns from IS in northern Aleppo

Current Situation 4 April 2016. Source.

After a couple weeks of trading territory back and forth with Islamic State forces in North Aleppo, a rebel offensive that started Thursday night has made significant gains. By Monday 4 April, the coordinated rebel groups had taken eight towns, and about 70km of territory from IS. The offensive is being led by the Hawar Kilis Operations Room (named for a town in the area), made up of a number of factions local to north Aleppo, including the Sultan Murad Division, Faylaq al-Sham, the likely U.S.-supported al-Moutasem Brigade, and others. The offensive is being assisted by Turkish artillery strikes, as well as some Coalition air support. Al-Moutasem Brigade's military commander has stated that the goal of the ongoing operations is to take the border town of al-Rai, which will be used for staging future attacks into IS territory. Unconfirmed reports have begun to come in alleging that rebel forces have already begun storming al-Ris.

Aleppo town of al-Eis taken by Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel forces

The Situation by 2 April. Source.

As hostilities continue in southern Aleppo, it was reported that rebel and Jabhat al-Nusra forces had successfully taken the hill and town of al-Eis from government forces and their allies on 2 April. Jabhat al-Nusra lost one of its field commanders in the process of taking the town. The large rebel coalition now has its sights set on the town of al-Hadher further to the east. A loyalist counter-offensive launched on the same day was able to repel attacks on the town of Barnah and retake the town of Abu Ruwayl, to the south.

Jabhat al-Nusra GoPro and Drone footage from the offensive

Large scale fighting breaks out in southern Aleppo

It appears that large scale fighting has broken in southern Aleppo on 1 April, though it is currently unclear exactly how it started. The hostilities are centered around the government-held town of al-Eis, to the south of Aleppo city. Al-Eis has changed hands multiple times throughout the war, most recently last month, when Jabhat al-Nusra and Jund al-Aqsa briefly captured it before being forced out.

al-Nusra is featured prominently in the latest round of fighting, officially declaring the attack and posting multiple videos around al-Eis through its media wing. Most importantly, however, many rebel factions appear to be coordinating in the area, including FSA groups that are supposed to be involved in the nationwide ceasefire. Groups that are reportedly involved, besides Jabhat al-Nusra, include Ahrar al-Sham, Ajnad al-Sham, Levant Front, Faylaq al-Sham, Jaysh al-Fatiheen, the FSA Central Division, Jaysh al-Tahrir, Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, Division 13, and Jaysh al-Nasr, several of whom are vetted TOW groups. While some rebels have claimed this to be a counter attack, it is also being reported that 4,000 fighters are taking part in fighting on the rebel side, making it appear to be an organized offensive.

So far it looks like al-Nusra and its allies have taken the Army Fueling Base just to the north of al-Eis.

a video of the fighting the al-Nusra media office