PHOTO: Rebels stand on a poster of President Assad in the Governor’s Palace in Idlib on Saturday


While rebels and opposition groups try to establish arrangements to govern Idlib after capturing the provincial capital on Saturday, the Assad regime appears to be gripped with uncertainty about its response to the loss in northwest Syria.

As expected, the Syrian air force has bombarded in retaliation, including the use of barrel bombs — the Local Coordination Committees reported 23 deaths in and near Idlib on Monday — and the military is defending the Mastoumeh base to the south of Idlib. However, there are signs that the ground strategy is in disarray.

One of the most telling signals comes from a pro-Assad site, al-Masdar News. The editor, Leith Fadel, has been in contact with a militiaman who retreated from Idlib to Jisr al-Shughour on the Turkish border:

We’re tense. We don’t know if we are attacking or staying on the defensive. No orders yet.

I swear to God the highest, we are not scared. But, for 3 days we have been waiting for orders….We have an obligation to liberate the city, God willing.

We haven’t slept in days; but, we are not tired —- we are anxious. Mostly NDF [militia] from Idlib [are with us]. The other NDF think we are traitors.

Meanwhile, Syrian State news agency SANA maintains its silence over not only Idlib city but the situation throughout the governorate, most of which is held by the rebels. Other pro-regime outlets, including al-Masdar News, put out the reassuring story that the prominent Syrian commander, Colonel Suheil “The Tiger” al-Hassan, and his elite force are on the way to Idlib, “where they will assist the National Defense Forces in reestablishing full control over the provincial capital”.

Compilation video of last week’s fighting in and near Idlib — at 2:42, Syrian troops can be seen fleeing amid civilians leaving the area:

Footage of the bombing of Idlib, with rescue workers moving injured and frightened civilians out of their building:

Fighters reaching the center of Idlib topple a statue of Ibrahim Hanano — one of the leading figures in the Syrian independence and reform movement in the early 20th century — apparently thinking that it is former President Hafez al-Assad:

Assad Office Posts Full Version of President’s Interview with CBS News

President Assad’s office has posted a full version, in Arabic and in English, of last week’s 127-question interview with the American outlet CBS News.

On Sunday night, CBS broadcast an abridged 13-minute version of the interview.

See Syria Video & Transcript: Assad’s Interview with America’s CBS News…Before the Fall of Idlib

Islamic State Offensive Against Regime in Eastern Hama Province

Pro-Assad outlets are acknowledging an Islamic State offensive in the al-Salamiyah area of eastern Hama Province.

A “military source” said the attack began at 2:30 a.m. on multiple checkpoints around the village of al-Maba’ouji (see map), followed by “infiltration” of militia positions. Al-Masdar News says the Islamic State took the southern half of the village before they were blocked by an army battalion and militia about 6:45 a.m.

Al-Masdar cites “unconfirmed” losses of 18 militia, with no number on slain Islamic State fighters.

Fighting continues for the northern half of the village, while the Syrian air force tries to hit jihadists in the southern area.

Earlier this month, scores of regime troops were reportedly killed by the Islamic State in the al-Salamiyah district, with claims of 70 people slain in the village of Sheikh Helal.

See Syria Daily, March 24: How Many Regime Troops Were Killed by Islamic State in Hama Province Last Week?