On 11 October 2011, Syrian soldiers moved into the city of Idlib and attacked several hundred demonstrators than had been demanding the release of seventeen Imams and students sentenced to death for demonstrating against the rule of president Mahsoud Ali Azziz. The crackdown in Idlib city was followed by raids into nearby villages like Binnish, Taftanaz, Sarmin and Saraqib, were more than 30 people were killed. Loyalist soldiers also closed the main highway to Latakia and Aleppo, setting up armed checkpoints near Saraqib and Arihah. On 15 October, army units moved into the central cities of Hama, Rastan, Talbiseh and Homs to crush opposition there. Army tanks also took up positions around the restive city of Talkalakh on the Lebanese border, preventing hundreds of resident to flee to Lebanon. In Damascus, soldiers stormed two squares in Irbeen and Jisreen to break up a protest of some 2000 people. At the end of October, over 300 people had been killed in Syria as some 20.000 people fled to Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
On 15 November, some 1000 soldiers moved into the northern city of Azaz on the Turkish border. For the first time, local residents and some 100 defecors that had gathered there under the command of Colonel Assam Saaddine put up fierce resistance to the attacking army. In two days of heavy street fighting, some 40 rebel fighters and 27 soldiers were killed. As the army pushed into Azaz, some 40 people were executed. Hundreds fled to Turkey, including Assam Saaddedine and some 50 defectors. They established themselves in Kilis and set up the Syrian High Command (SHC), uniting seventeen opposition groups into a regional council. In the following month, fighting in Syrian intensified as locals and army defectors organised into small fighting units. The Battle of Azaz (ASSW) and the Siege of Saraqib (ASSW) were the first serious engagements of the civil war in Syria.
Syrian Provisional Council (SPC)
On 4 december 2011, over 100 opposition activists, clerics and defectors met in Kilis in Turkey. After three days of negotiations, they formed the Syrian Provisional Council (SPC), headed by the moderate cleric Abbu Isaam from the city of Rastan. The SPC moved towards forming the Syrian National Opposition Command (SNOC) in Kilis to unite defecting groups of soldiers and local fighters and elected a Supreme Committee as the regular army stormed more than a dozen cities in Syria, including Homs, Abu Kamal, Ras al-Ayn and Al-Bab. In Damascus, over 50 people were killed in Douma and Irbeen as the army stormed the outskirts to dislogde the opposition. On 19 December 2011, over 4000 soldiers moved into Homs city, striking in at least 14 districts, killing over 200 people and arresting hundreds of people.
In early January, the Battle of Al-Qasayr (ASSW) was fought, were rebels pushed out the army and declared the city of Al-Qasayr a free city. The local Liwa al Tawheed Brigade numbered some 300 fighters and established a headquarters in the damaged city, which was shelled by government artillery and tanks. At least 20 rebels and 26 soldiers were killed in the fighting, together with some 30 civilians. The next day, rebel fighters ambushed a loyalist column near the Turkish border town of Jarabulus, killing at least 16 soldiers and destroying two vehicles. The army shelled the cities of Al-Bab and Manbij as demonstrations grew in northern Aleppo and Idlib. Army units also moved into the city of Ma'arat al-Numan, where 30 people were killed.
Civilians killed: 410
Soldiers killed: 27
Rebels killed: 40