The battle started on 21 March 2014, with fighting near Markada's grain silos that left 27 al-Nusra Front fighters dead and others missing.
On the morning of 27 March, ISIL attacked the town, which was being held by the al-Nusra Front. ISIL managed to force al-Nusra to withdraw to the town's hospital and the mountain overlooking Markada.
Before dawn on 29 March, clashes erupted in the town as ISIL attacked the hospital and al-Nusra positions in the mountain. After heavy fighting that left 43 al-Nusra and 13 ISIL fighters dead, ISIL took full control of the town as al-Nusra forces retreated towards the town of al-Sour in the eastern rural area of Deir ez-Zor province. Many al-Nusra fighters were also captured. Among those killed was also the top provincial ISIL commander, Omar al-Farouk al-Turki.
On 31 March, al-Nusra launched a counterattack in an attempt to recapture the town. By this time, the number of those killed since the start of the fighting had risen to 120.