“The Army of Conquest” combines forces of al-Qaeda allies from Nusra Front with the powerful Ahrar al-Sham faction and several smaller Islamist groups, according to their founding statement posted Tuesday. The new coalition launched a joint offensive to take the capital of Idlib province on the same day, shelling the outskirts of the strategic city and detonating at least car two car bombs at army checkpoints in their push toward the urban areas.
“The attack has started from several directions, there are fierce battles,” Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.
In an online message, the rebels asked the locals to stay indoors in the coming days, telling them the extremist fighters “are at the walls of Idlib” and “have decided to liberate this good town.”
“The Army of Conquest” also called on Sunni soldiers defending Idlib to “repent” and promising them full amnesty if they desert the army.