Basil Issa, one of northern Idlib’s primary rebel leaders was killed in an airstrike yesterday. Issa's Shuhada Idlib Brigade, captured the town of the Harem near Syria’s northwestern border with Syria this past week. As with other towns, the regime’s response to the rebel seizure of Harem was to continually bomb it from the air. In addition to a mosque and apartment buildings, the regime got lucky when it killed a man at the center of the rebels’ success in northwestern Idlib.
After rebel bands fled Idlib city in March 2012, Issa played a leading role in organizing them into hierarchical command structures. This allowed him to execute one of the rebels' first large-scale operations when he led over 400 fighters on an assault on the town of Armanaz in June.
In July, Issa and his men captured the town of Salqin from a contingent of Shabiha. In early September, Issa led his first assault on Harem but was forced to withdraw after a several days of fighting. He returned to Harem in late-October, this time successfully forcing the regime from what may have been its northernmost position. This was Issa's final battlefield success.
While it is unclear who will take control of the Shuhada Idlib Brigade, there are several candidates. First is Muhanad Issa, a relative of Basil. In July, Muhanad described himself as the vice-commander of the Brigade, but he does not play a role in combat operations. Instead, he playes the role of an activist, granting interviews in Turkey and serving as the head of the Idlib City Revolutionary Council’s Military Bureau. Other candidates are the leaders of the Shuhada Idlib Brigade’s most active battalions: the Jaffar al-Tayyar Battalion and the Uthman bin Affan Battalion.
A video of Basil celebrating the creation of his brigade.