Syrian Soldiers Surrounded by Nusra Front

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Jisr al-Shughour, Syria
May 11, 2015

More than 200 Syrian government fighters, possibly including high ranking officers, are believed to have been besieged in the government hospital complex in the town of Jisr al-Shughour for more than two weeks. This is one of the few locations where Syrian regime forces still exist in Idlib province. Syrian government forces have failed to break the siege despite several airstrikes and ground operations.

This video offers an inside look at positions held by the Nusra Front within the wrecked hospital complex, which has become a battlefield. Rebel fighters control three of the hospital's four main buildings.

Rebel military commanders speculated in interviews that high ranking Syrian, Iranian and Russian military officers, as well as the governor of Idlib might be caught in the remaining building.


Wide of building where Syrian government troops are hiding

Medium of Nusra Front fighter behind sandbags

Close-up of rifle tip

Various inside blood bank building held by Nusra Front

Various of destroyed buildings

Various inside the blood bank building

Wide of building held by regime forces

Various of Nusra Front fighters

Interview with Abu Zain al-Abidin, Nusra Front commander

Various of Abu Zain al-Abdidin with other Nusra Front fighters

Interview with unnamed Nusra Front fighter

Various of a room that was used as a detention center by regime forces

Interview with unnamed Nusra Front fighter

Close-up of graffiti written by regime fighters

Various of Nusra Front fighters attempting to approach regime-held building

Various of wrecked cars and killed regime fighters’ corpses

Medium of tank

Interview with Abu Omar al-Zaybaq, a Nusra Front commander

Various of regime-held building

Close-up of empty bullet casings

Various of Nusra Front fighters shooting at regime-held building

Wide of regime-held building


SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Abu Zain al-Abidin , Nusra Front Commander
(02:10 – 03:53)

“In the name of God, peace be upon God’s Messenger, and thanks be to God. We are inside Jisr al-Shughour Hospital. Over there is the hospital’s main gate; here is the external clinics building behind me. This is the external clinics building. We are now in the hospital’s surrounding.
Q: We heard that high ranking officers from regime forces are inside the hospital. What kind of information do you have about this? And what is the approximate number of people inside the hospital, which you are now besieging?
A: The estimated number of people is 250. There might be high ranking personalities or the governor [of Idlib province]. There might be important personalities.
Q: In reaction, what did the regime do to break the siege and how did you manage to push back the regime forces?
A: It [the regime] is using all sorts of weapons, such as warplanes; it is trying with all sorts of weapons, but, thanks be to God, we are prepared to confront it. We shall retaliate with sophisticated and modern means. The regime will witness surprises in the next few hours.

We enforced a security perimeter with a radius of about five to six km and they could not withdraw. If they were able to withdraw they would have done it. Some of them withdrew but the others could not.
Our attack, thanks be to God, was very fast and we were able to enforce the siege unexpectedly. The perimeter we enforced on them was large. They were not able to withdraw. If they could withdraw they would have done it.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed Nusra Front Fighter
04:17 – 04:53
“We are now at the external clinics building in the National Hospital of Jisr al-Shughour. The infidel enemy is located in that building, which is a few meters away. We are now closing down on them with the help of God Almighty.
God willing, we will storm the building with explosive-rigged cars the likes of which the regime has not seen.
The men we have brought to fight you love death as much as you love life. We have brought migrant as well as local fighters. Thanks be to God.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed Nusra Front Fighter
(05:17 – 05:54) “This is not a prison. This is supposed to be a hospital. However, God’s enemy turned this into a cell to detain Muslims. Unfortunately, look how Muslims draw on the walls. May God help us. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] Prisoners had no knives or weapons and were placed in the second floor underground. May God help us; may God help us. God willing, we have come to cut your throats.”

SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu Omar al-Zaybaq
(07:26 – 08:40)

“In the name of God, In the course of the hospital battle, thank be to God we are besieging [regime members] from all sides. Thanks be to God, we have controlled the three [main] buildings. There are one more building and the basement left.
God willing, we will soon be inside the basement where Assad’s gangs are located, which is where secrets are kept.

Q: What are these secrets? What is it that enabled people besieged in a single building to hold on?
A: God knows better, but it is said that the regime is so ferocious in trying to keep this hospital. God knows better, there might be high ranking officers, who could be Iranians or Russians. There could also be chemical weapons.
In the next few days we will bring you new information.”