Geopolitical Cyprus has mapped out the organizations of the Sunni Armed Opposition currently active in the greater area of Idlib. According to military sources on the ground who wish to remain anonymous, the real numbers of these organizations are as follows:

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham: 8 to 10 thousand fighters

Faylaq al-Sham: 8 to 10 thousand fighters

Ahrar al-Sham: approx. 4 thousand fighters

Turkistan Islamic Party: 3 to 4 thousand fighters

Jaysh-al-Izza: 4 thousand fighters

Suqour al-Sham: 2 thousand fighters

Hurras al-Din: 1 thousand fighters

Jaysh al-Nasr: 1 thousand fighters

Jaysh al-Ahrar: 1 thousand fighters

Ansar al-Din front: 400 fighters

Ansar al-Islam: 400 fighters

Ansar al-Tawhid: 200 fighters

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) remains the most battle-efficient force in the wider province of Idlib and it has the capacity to absorb or dismantle other active militias, both ideologically and tactically.

Hurras al-Din is also consisted of ex-HTS (real al-Nusra front), battle proven veterans, that distanced themselves from HTS’s leader, al-Jolani, mostly for ideological reasons and they could be characterized as “al Qaeda originalists.”

If, in the near future, the Assad regime decides to move against Idlib for a full scale confrontation in order to recapture the city, the real number of fighters that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) will have to deal with is estimated between 30 and 40 thousand. According to the same sources, a full Idlib offensive could last several weeks (recapturing Aleppo in 2016 took four months, between September and December).

By John Ioannou