Jihadi group escalates campaign in Idlib

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22 February 2022

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s (HTS) security apparatus has recently warned the families of foreign fighters that they need to vacate their places of residence and businesses in the city of Idlib in northwest Syria.

Local sources told Al-Monitor that HTS gave the foreign fighters’ families no more than several days to leave Idlib. The security apparatus summoned a number of those families for interrogation to find out more about their relatives who came to Syria to fight against the government forces.

The owner of the well-known @MzmjerSh Twitter account of a jihadi from Syria said in Feb. 17 tweet that HTS told some foreign fighters that they are not welcome in Idlib. He said some of these fighters reached out to their respective embassies to surrender themselves due to restrictions, while others considered traveling toward the north or to Afghanistan.

HTS explained in a statement published by its affiliated media agency that the demand that foreign fighters and their families leave Idlib is not only limited to the groups that joined the Syrian revolution (opposition), but also all those who exploited the houses they live in and committed criminal offenses or security crimes.

It continued that the decision involves all members of all factions, including HTS members, and is not limited to a specific segment or nationality.

HTS promised that the concerned authorities will seek to find alternatives for some of these segments, especially those in need, based on the available capabilities.

Commenting on the matter, Khalil al-Muqdad, a Qatar-based researcher focusing on jihadi groups, told Al-Monitor, “It is not something new for HTS to get rid of its rivals in its areas of control. HTS sought to impose itself as the sole faction there. HTS has fought the Islamic State [IS], and it eliminated Jund al-Aqsa and other factions that are considered moderate and enjoy international and regional support, such as the Hazm movement. But during each of these operations, the circumstances were different.”

Source: Monitor