History And Role Of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra) In Syrian War

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14.05.2020 

The analysis below was originally released by SouthFront in January 2018. Nonetheless, it remains useful to understand the situation in the militant-held part of Syria’s Greater Idlib region as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra) is still the most powerful armed group there.


History
Jabhat al-Nusra, originally Jabhat an-Nuṣrah li-ahli ash-Sham min Mujahideen ash-Shām fi Sahat al-Jihad or “Victory Front for the People of the Levant by the Mujahideen of the Levant on the Fields of Jihad”, was founded in January 2012, when military operations between the government forces and groups of armed Syrian opposition were in full force. Jabhat al-Nusra arose with the direct support of the Iraqi cell of al-Qaeda, the “Islamic State in Iraq”, which was at that time led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. At the outset, the leaders of al-Qaeda tried, with the help of their Iraqi ally, to strengthen friendly Jihadist groups in Syria and to unite them into one militant organization.
Abu Muhammad al-Julani, a member of the al-Qaeda branch in Iraq – “the Islamic State in Iraq”, was chosen by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to establish an al-Qaeda branch in Syria under the name of the “Al-Nusra Front for the People of Al-Sham.” Abu Muhammed al-Julani entered Syria from Iraq and began a series of meetings in Homs, Ghouta of Damascus, and Deir-ez-Zor. The first cells of Jabhat al-Nusra were established in the northern Homs countryside, western Ghouta of Damascus, and in al-Bukamal on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
On January 23, 2012, Abu Muhammad al-Julani officially announced the establishment of the “Al-Nusra Front for the People of Al-Sham” and small groups began to carry out terrorist acts against civilians, attacked the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and later began conducting clashes along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and ISIS.
In a short time, Jabhat al-Nusra under the leadership of Abu Muhammad al-Julani achieved a number of military successes and gained fame as one of the most efficient units in the north, north-west and northeast of Syria. A pivotal moment occurred at the end of 2012, when Jabhat al-Nusra seized many military facilities, arms and military equipment in western part of Aleppo. After the movement’s detachments were thus strengthened in the western and eastern parts of the province, the main routes of communication between the economic capital of Syria and the Syrian-Turkish border fell under Jabhat al-Nusra’s control, which forced other detachments fighting in opposition to Bashar Assad to establish relations and coordinate their actions with the organization.

Main operations and spheres of influence
In the Homs province, Jabhat al-Nusra, along with the al-Qaeda branch in Lebanon, Fatah al-Islam, was one of the most powerful fighting factions alongside the Al-Farouq battalion of the FSA, most of whose militants publicly or secretly joined al-Nusra or Fatah al-Islam.
Jabhat al-Nusra led many attacks in the old Homs area, Khalidiya and Baba Amro between 2011 and 2012, and led a large-scale attack on January 29, 2012 to capture the towns of Rastan and Talbisah in the northern Homs and succeeded in that operation.
In the south of Syria, especially in the Daraa province, Al-Nusra managed to form large forces rapidly, and led the attack on Daraa city on March 14, 2012. Within months, it managed to capture most areas within the city of Daraa.
On July 15, 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra participated in their first attack on the capital city of Damascus along with the FSA and Jaish al-Islam. Within days, they managed to capture most areas of eastern and Western Ghouta along with several districts close to the center of the capital Damascus, such as the districts of Jubar and Al-Maydan. Later the SAA managed to recapture most of these areas.
On July 19, 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra participated in the attack on Aleppo city along with groups of the FSA, the most important of which was the “Northern Storm Regiment”. Within days they managed to capture the eastern area of Aleppo. Later, Jabhat Al-Nusra’s influence expanded. At one point al-Nusra became the sole ruler of opposition-controlled Aleppo, especially after large numbers of the FSA jointed its ranks by the end of 2012 and after it took ISIS out of the city in 2014.
Since 2013, Idlib has become the main center of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, and the headquarters of its leadership. Jabhat al-Nusra managed to strengthen its influence further in the beginning of 2014 after the departure of ISIS from the province as a result of a number of disagreements between the groups.
Jabhat al-Nusra participated alongside Ahrar al-Sham in the attack on Raqqa city and managed to capture it on March 6, 2013, 3 days after the attack began. Later, in July 2014, ISIS took over control of Raqqa city. Some members of Jabhat al-Nusra decided to join ISIS while the rest refused to fight it. As a result, al-Nusra withdrew from the city.
From the beginning, Jabhat al-Nusra lead battles against the SAA in the Deir-ez-Zor countryside and in Deir-ez-Zor city. By 2013 al-Nusra seized most of the oil fields in the city’s countryside and along with the FSA, started an illegal oil trade with Turkey.

At the beginning of 2014 with the escalation of ISIS influence in Iraq, al-Nusra began to reduce its presence in Deir-ez-Zor city. After some minor clashes, most of al-Nusra’s fighters withdrew from Deir-Ez-Zour to Aleppo and Idlib, while large numbers of al-Nusra foreign militants joined ISIS.
It is believed that on April 6, 2014, the remnants of the FSA detonated a VBIED in the old Homs area with the aim of killing the commanders of Jabhat al-Nusra. The suicide attack was a success, and after the death of the commanders of Jabhat al-Nusra, an evacuation agreement was reached on 2 May 2014.
On March 24, 2015, Jabhat al-Nusra led an attack alongside the US-backed Free Syrian Army factions to capture Idlib city and were able to do so within 4 days. This operation was successful largely due to US support through intelligence and advanced weapons such as the TOW missiles, which reached the hands of al-Nusra militants.
By 14 June 2015, Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies from the FSA had managed to capture the entire western Idlib countryside, including the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour, and carried out a series of massacres against the pro-government population, expelled even the pro-opposition population from the city, and blew up and demolished most of its buildings.
With Russian military intervention in Syria and the bombing of the positions of Jabhat al-Nusra in Aleppo, Idlib and the northern Homs countryside, both the “moderate” and radical Islamist opposition began to lose strategic initiative in the civil war in Syria. There was a lot of pressure from supporters of Jabhat al-Nusra, Turkey and Qatar, on the leadership of the movement, to disengage from and disavow Al-Qaeda.
After the great advance of the SAA in Aleppo and its success in besieging the eastern districts, Abu Muhammad al-Julani announced on July 28, 2016, the official disengagement of al-Nusra from al-Qaeda and announced the formation of the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. He stressed that the objectives of the al-Sham Front are the same as those of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in Syria. In an ironic twist, al-Qaeda leader “Ayman al-Zawahiri” praised al-Julani’s decision and declared his support for the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, prompting everyone, including the United States, to consider the move as a formality. The Jabhat Fatah al-Sham maintained its terrorist classification in all countries, including the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
On October 28, 2016, Jabhat al-Nusra with its allies from the Free Syrian Army launched a large counterattack south and west of Aleppo city to break the siege of the SAA in the eastern districts; however, the attack failed two weeks later when Jabhat Fatah al-Sham could not hold the points it had taken over.
On 28 January 2017, Jabhat al-Nusra changed its name once again, this time to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). On March 21, 2017, it launched the offensive of the northern Hama countryside along with the FSA factions supported by the CIA, most notably are Jaish al-Izza, Jaish al-Nasr and the Idlib Free Army. These were considered the most important allies of Jabhat al-Nusra in Idlib and a major source of its weapons. The aim of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s advance was to recapture the settlements it lost in 2016. The active phase of fighting continued until the end of April 2017. For more than a month, neither side had a decisive advantage, and in fact, prolonged fights began, during which a number of settlements repeatedly changed hands.
Having accumulated enough reserves in the area and with the support of the Russian Aerospace Forces, the SAA launched a counter-offensive against the positions of the Islamists in mid-April and recaptured the territories it had lost at the beginning of the month.
On September 19, 2017 HTS, along with the units of the Turkestan Islamic Party and the FSA, once again made an attempt to advance on the position of the SAA in the northern part of the province of Hama.. The aim of HTS was to take revenge for their defeat in the April 2017 offensive. While fighting went back and forth, with settlements being occupied by both sides several times, the struggle continued until the end of September and ended in a stalemate, with neither side able of winning a convincing victory, with each side remaining in their original positions. As time went on, the situation in the province was further complicated by the appearance of the IS militants in early October 2017, as a result of which armed conflict erupted between all opposition groups in the region, which continues at varying degrees of intensity to this day.
In late November and early December, the SAA carried out a number of operations against HTS in northern Hama and southern Aleppo and achieved some success creating the prerequisites for a push towards the Abu al-Duhur air base. Taking the air base under control will allow government troops to expand the buffer zone adjacent to the road going to Aleppo and cut the front line to the west of Khanaser.
The intensification of the activities of the Russian Air Force in the region in the first half of December 2017 gives grounds to conclude that the preparation of the SAA for an attack on the position of radical Islamists is underway. This offensive is likely to have the goal of delivering a decisive blow to HTS, since it currently presents a greater threat than the IS.
In January 2018, the SAA liberated a large area from HTS in southern Idlib advancing towards the Abu al-Duhur air base.
At the present time (January 2018) the main area of ​​deployment of the armed units of HTS is in the province of Idlib. In addition, the units of Jabhat al-Nusra partially occupy the north-eastern part of the province of Hama, and the western and south-western part of the province of Aleppo. After al-Nusra finally broke off relations with Ahrar al-Sham, one of the most battle-worthy movements in Syria, they gained control of practically the entirety of the province of Idlib.
Structure
The movement avoids publications concerning the structure of the organization, the real names of commanders of its large units and the work of its main bodies. It is known that the advisory body Majlis al-Shura, consisting of 12 people, is at the head of the movement. Based on information surveyed and interviews, HTS operates through eight divisions, namely military, security, services, religious law, courts, media, finances, and politics. For each of these divisions, there is an office for the Shura Council.
In fact, since its inception, Jabhat al-Nusra / HTS was a coalition of armed formations.As a result of the rebranding conducted in January 2017, HTS includes such groups as “Jabhat Ansar al-Din”, “Nur al-Din al-Zenki”, “Liwa al-Haqq”, and “Jaysh al-Sunna” . According to information from the organization’s website, the new formation also includes groups: Tawhid Wal-Jihad, Ar-Rashid, Ibn Taimiyya, Liva Abbas, Sukur al-Izz, Al-Sahabat, Kuwafal Shuhada, Usud al-Harb, Liva Ahrar al-Jabal and others. Several large groups withdrew from the Ahrar al-Sham and swore allegiance to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham : Surya al-Aqsa, Liva Ahrar al-Jabal, Ansar Homs, and Kurdish paramilitary groups which together comprised of more than five thousand soldiers. The process of breaking and mending relations is constant and there is an alternate structure of the movement as of April 2017.
The auxiliary functions are performed by Qism al-Ighatha (Department of Relief), Idarat al-Khidarat al-Ammah (Public Services Administration), Idarat al-Manateq and al-Muharara (Liberated Districts Administration). In the so-called “liberated areas” where Jabhat al-Nusra has filled the power vacuum, it has created, along with other jihadist organizations, a system of justice and law enforcement called the Shari’ah Authority (Al-Hay’ah al-Shar’iyyah). The Shari’ah Authority operates its own police force called the Shari’ah Authority Police (Shurtat al-Hay’ah al-Shar’iyyah).
The military structure of the groups varies depending on the geographical location of the fighters in Syria. In Damascus, where the partisan tactics of fighting were employed, the divisions were divided into separate detachments, while in Aleppo, military operations were conducted by full-fledged military formations, consolidated into brigades, regiments and battalions.
The movement actively recruits groups of militants, formed on the basis of national and religious grounds.  There are units of militants from Ajnadal-Kavkaz, Caucasus Emirate (natives of Chechnya), and the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria (Uyghurs and natives of the Central Asian countries of the former USSR). From a military point of view, this is convenient for management and interaction, since there is no language barrier between the fighters and the commanders. Upon returning to their host country, such a detachment is practically a ready-made cell with combat experience, in which each member knows one another, trusts his commander and is ready to act in the interests of the parent organization. Western experts estimate that in less than 2 years of its existence, there were almost 5,000 people from 60 countries who fought for the movement.
The core military formations varied in their numbers and at times amounted to up to 30,000 people. Together with the added paramilitary groups of like-minded people, the total number reached 70,000. At present, the number of formations is smaller and the core of the grouping, according to the estimates of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces as of August 2017, consists of up to 15,000 men. Together with units of radical Islamists from other groups, it amounts to a total of 25,000.
The armament of the movement consists of small arms, artillery and tanks seized from the SAA, from various anti-Assad forces, and equipment received from foreign sponsors from the Gulf countries through the jihadist movements with direct or indirect US assistance. In addition, according to reports, the movement has chemical weapon reserves. In December 2012, at the SYSACCO chemical production plant (30 km east of Aleppo), the al-Nusra units captured about 200 tons of chlorine. In May 2013, Turkish special services arrested insurgents of al-Nusra on the border with Syria for attempting to acquire sarin components.
An indicative example of direct or indirect U.S. support is the use of the American ATGM BGM-71 TOW by the al-Nusra forces. These units were transferred to the armed formations by the “moderate” opposition, for example, FSA units (Harakat Hazzm). Subsequently, the ATGM systems were either voluntarily supplied, or forcibly taken from other groups by HTS. At the end of September 2015, the “30th division” of the opposition, supported by the US government, surrendered to the units of al-Nusra and handed over a large number of ammunition, small arms and artillery weapons and a number of light vehicles. The same happened with the FSA’s “13 Division” in March 2016, which directly received American weapons.
Rebranding
At the end of June 2016, the leaders of the Syrian opposition (primarily from Ahrar al-Sham) conducted negotiations and consultations in light of Russia’s actions against al-Nusra, which also threatened other groups. As a result of such meetings in the western part of the province of Aleppo and in Idlib, it proposed to either dissolve al-Nusra into a new association, which would be headed by Ahram al-Sham or to tear it away from al-Qaeda. The situation was such that a third of al-Nusra, first of all the ethnic Syrians, were ready to break with al-Qaeda and join a new group.
Then the leadership of al-Nusra undertook a rebranding, which, on the one hand, was to save it from a split, and on the other, in the eyes of the Syrians, to root it in the Syrian revolutionary movement. As a result, al-Nusra became known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Front of the Conquest of Syria) and proclaimed its formal departure from al-Qaeda. After this, the leadership of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham attempted to unite with Ahrar al- Sham and other factions; however, this would have led to the inclusion of all participants of this union on the list of internationally recognized terrorist groups. As a result, the attempt to create a “Syrian Islamic Commission” at the end of 2016, in which A. Giulani wanted to play a key role, failed.

There are other reasons why al-Nusra began to act under a new name.
First, it allows sponsors and leaders of the movement to avoid sanctions, since al-Nusra periodically gets on the “Consolidated List of Legal Entities Affiliated with or Associated with al-Qaeda Organization”, compiled by the UN Security Council. Updating the list, in light of objective reasons, is not keeping up with the evolution and expansion of al-Qaeda and its subsidiaries.
Second, it is more convenient for Western special services to deal with groups not listed on the list of the UN Security Council and/or on the American or European list of terrorist organizations. Instead, they prefer to deal with “rebels” who declared their secession from al-Qaeda.
On January 28, 2017, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham conducted another rebranding and was named Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (Organization for the Liberation of the Levant). This coincided with increased pressure on opposition groups in Syria and with a turning point in the Syrian war – the liberation of Aleppo. The military defeat near Aleppo, where Jabhat al-Nusra lost the bulk of its most trained fighters and much of its technology, was a turning point in reducing its influence.
Relations and relationships with other groups
Military successes in the first years of the civil war declined to the point where, starting from 2014, the movement started to systematically weaken and accept “moderate” groups, which represented secular and national opposition.
In November 2014, Jabhat al-Nusra attacked the “Syrian Revolutionary Front”, a large association that fought under the banner of the FSA and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and received assistance from the United States and its allies. Its leader, Jamal Ma’ruf, was forced to flee to Turkey. Then the jihadists attacked the camps of the movement “Harakat Hazzm”, which the US planned to thoroughly train and supply with weapons and which many American analysts viewed as the most acceptable variant of the moderate opposition.
As a result, Jabhat al-Nusra at the end of October 2014, seized the base of the Hazzm Movement in Idlib, and in January 2015 displaced it from Aleppo, effectively forcing it to dissolve and merge with other militant groups. At the end of September 2015, al-Nusra attacked the 30th division of the FSA, forcing some of the fighters along with their arms to cross over to their side. The jihadists particularly intensified the fighting against the “moderate opposition” after the US and its allies began to conduct air strikes at the end of September 2014, not only directed against the positions of the IS, but also targeting “Jabhat al-Nusra.” Thus, the movement played an important role in the failure of the US project to create a “secular military opposition” in Syria.
Since 2012, the FSA’s relations with Jabhat al-Nusra have been excellent. The FSA and the US-backed factions supported Jabhat al-Nusra financially and most importantly with the weapons supplied to them by the CIA and Turkey. However, al-Nusra did not hesitate to turn its weapons against the FSA or hesitate to eliminate any group that opposed its will, especially in the province of Idlib and in Aleppo countryside.
As for the relationship of Jabhat al-Nusra with Ahrar al-Sham, one of the largest groups in the north of Syria, while Ahrar al-Sham obey the orders of Jabhat al-Nusra and treat its leadership with respect, Jabhat al-Nusra takes firm action with Ahrar al-Sham and has not hesitated to use its weapons against it in 2017. It has even issued a statement calling the militants of the Ahrar al-Sham “infidels” after clashes with the 46th regiment in the northwest Aleppo countryside. However, the militants of Ahrar al-Sham, despite a number of them being killed or wounded by al-Nusra tanks, refused to return fire on the al-Nusra militants.
It is also believed that Jabhat al-Nusra pushed Ahrar al-Sham into a losing battle in Aleppo in order to weaken it. The final gulf between the two-armed movements formed in July 2017. The reason for the conflict, in addition to purely ideological differences, was the fact that the Ahrar al-Sham group controlled the Bab al-Hawa border crossing on the Syrian-Turkish border, which was an important transport corridor, as well as a source of finance and the replenishment of the military formations of the “moderate” opposition. Perhaps the most important reason for the conflict was the issue of control over the “civil administration” of the province of Idlib.
The disagreement of Jabhat al-Nusra with ISIS began at the end of 2013, when al-Nusra separated its link to the Islamic State in Iraq – now ISIS – and the controversy increased in 2014 when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the separation from al-Qaeda and the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate. Al-Julani rejected Abu Bakr’s allegiance to the Caliphate. The basis of the controversy is that Jabhat al-Nusra believes that the Caliphate should be established after capturing the whole of Syria and Iraq, while ISIS believes that the Caliphate should be established in any area under its control. Although there was a great deal of talk about clashes between the two parties, clashes were rare, short-lived. Jabhat al-Nusra withdrew from Deir-Ez-zour and Raqqa, while ISIS withdrew from Aleppo and Idlib, with large numbers of militants from Al-Nusra changing their allegiance to ISIS.
Al-Nusra developed a difficult relationship with the movement of Nour al-Din al-Zenki (numbering 7,000 militants in 2017). In 2015 and 2016, both sides participated in clashes against each other; however, in January 2017, the Nour al-Din al-Zenki group in Idlib joined with al-Nusra. In the second half of July 2017, there was a conflict between the leadership of Nour al-Din al-Zenki and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham  because of a statement, made by an authority figure from Nour al-Din al-Zenki, saying that there is no Sharia rule in the territory controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Since HTS strategy is aimed at cooperating with local Islamist organizations that recognize the main goal of establishing an Islamic state and Sharia in Syria, such an approach does not allow Syrian Islamist groups, including Jaysh al-Islam, to oppose Al Qaeda in Syria in the face of Jabhat al-Nusrah / HTS. Both groups profess Salafi Islam and both groups raise the issue of overthrowing the existing power.
According to a former leader of Jaysh al-Islam, Muhammad Zahran Allush, there was a fraternal relationship between his organization and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the existing insignificant ideological differences could be resolved through the discussion and application of Shariah norms. In his interview, Zahran Allush said that he personally met with one of the leaders of “Jabhat al-Nusra” Abu al-Qahtani, and found no difference between the Shari’ah of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Shari’ah of “Jash al-Islam”.
In 2013, Jaysh al-Islam, together with Jabhat al- Nusra, organized a bloody massacre in the city of Adra, directed mainly against minorities, most notably the Alawites. After the death of Muhammad Zahran Allush as the result of an airstrike conducted on December 25, 2015, the new leadership of Jaysh al-Islam soon began to disagree with the leadership of Jabhat al-Nusra. This took place in light of the fact that the Islam Army has taken a strong stance in favor of negotiations, with Zahran Alloush’s cousin and close companion, Mohammed Alloush, heading the opposition diplomats in Geneva.
Participation of various groups of “moderate opposition” in the Syrian settlement under the patronage of Turkey, Iran and Russia led to a “split” in the ranks of these groups, which significantly weakened their position in the country.  In this respect, the case of the Jaysh al-Islam movement can serve as a prime example. Since the movement formally participates as a group and represents the “moderate opposition”, it had to sever its ties with HTS. In practice, the situation is quite different.
Jaysh al-Islam has several regional branches: Eastern Ghouta, Eastern Qalamoun, Daraa, and Idlib.
Eastern Ghouta – Jaysh al-Islam, HTS, Ahrar al-Sham and al-Rahman Corps are the most influential groups in this area near Damascus. All of them, in spite of some tensions, actively cooperate against the SAA. The peak of Jaysh al-Islam’s participation in the fight against HTS was when the group allegedly did not come to the aid of HTS during the battles in the area of ​​Jobar (Guta district). However, the truce in the region is very controversial. Not long ago, Ahrar al-Sham conducted a series of major attacks against the army in the area south of the Duma – the area of the Army Armored Vehicles Base.
Eastern Qalamoun – the militants did not show much activity here and before negotiations in Astana, there was a truce.  In fact, Jaysh al-Islam is forced to share resources and interact with HTS in this region.
As a result, it turns out that the leaders of this “moderate” opposition did not actually do anything of substance in constructively participating in the Astana process and limited themselves exclusively to vague formal gestures (such as sending delegations and making loud statements in the media).
Therefore, one can make the disappointing conclusion that the real influence of the Astana format on the situation in Syria is of much significance than originally thought, and the format is not very effective. Statements of the high-ranking officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry about successful negotiations are not accurate. To date, the moderate opposition does not want peace. It continues fighting, repeatedly delays negotiations, and awaits the intervention of other countries.
The Idlib de-escalation zone
Separately, it is necessary to focus on 4 zones of de-escalation in Syria, the boundaries of which were determined by the agreements in Astana on September 16, 2017. The agreement established the boundaries of de-escalation zones, where, as agreed, military operations between government forces and forces of the armed opposition groups which have already joined the truce or will join it in the future, are to be halted. To prevent incidents and clashes between various sides along the borders of zones, security bands were created. They include observation posts and checkpoints for the movement of unarmed civilians, delivery of humanitarian aid and facilitation of economic activities. The work of the checkpoints and observation posts, as well as the management of the security zones, is carried out by personnel from Russia, Turkey and Iran. This begs many questions, chief among them: Why is there is no mention of withdrawal of heavy weaponry nor the surrender of weapons inside the zones?
The most extensive zone of de-escalation is located in northern Syria. It contains the province of Idlib, as well as the bordering northeastern parts of the province of Latakia, the western provinces of Aleppo and the northern regions of the province of Hama. It is worth noting that the province of Idlib is one of the most problematic. It is here that the main forces of the terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra / HTS are based, and it was here that the Syrian authorities brought militants and members of their families from Aleppo.
According to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Russia will provide security outside of Idlib while Turkey will ensure security inside of Idlib. Turkey had the right to deploy in Idlib, via a small group of troops, whose task is to organize observation posts, but they are not to form a full-fledged army group. However, by October 13, 2017, about 50 units of armored vehicles and 200 servicemen crossed the Turkish-Syrian border. The pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak claimed that 25,000 Turkish soldiers were mobilized to carry out military operations in Syria.
Thus, in the northern part of the Idlib province, the so-called free zone from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham  is created under the auspices of Turkish forces. The area will host the forces of the “moderate” opposition and Turkish troops. In the south, the province of Hama will host Russian observers. The forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham will be moved to a zone located in the middle. This way HTS will be deprived of any possibility of reaching the border.
Meanwhile, in the zones controlled by radical Islamists, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham  blames the “moderate” opposition, for abandoning the war against the Assad government and entering into peace agreements. At the same time, the movement, aside from fighting battles against the SAA, is actively engaged in attacks against factions of the “moderate” opposition.
Financing and communication with external sponsors
“Jabhat al-Nusra” is considered to be one of the most well-equipped and well-armed formations fighting against government troops. According to some estimates, before the conflict with the Islamic State (January 2012-April 2013), half of ISIS’ budget was sent to Jabhat al-Nusra. At the same time, the group received significant funds from Syrians with sympathies for radical Islam. From April, 2013 to the end of 2014, the budget of the movement was largely replenished by the illegal trade of oil acquired from the east and northeast of Syria. When the oil prices dropped, IS exerted control over these oil fields, and the movement lost this source of financing.
From the end of 2014 until the present, al-Nusra’s main source of financing comes from external sources. Most of the funding comes from the charitable Salafi foundations in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and from high-ranking clerics and wealthy businessmen who sympathize with the ideas of Salafi Islam of Jordan and Turkey. Hamid bin Abdallah al-Ali is an example of a person who sympathizes with the ideas of the movement. He is an influential Salafi cleric in Kuwait. He has facilitated the transfer of funds, weapons, supplies and fighters to and from Syria for Jabhat al-Nusra,
Shafi Sultan Mohammed al-Ajmi is a native of Kuwait. He is included by the UN Security Council in the list of persons sponsoring al-Qaeda and related organizations. Together with his assistants, he raised funds and gathered weapons under the pretext of charity. He personally delivered the collected funds to various groups, including Jabhat al-Nusra.
Abd al-Rahman al-Nuaimi is a Qatar-based terrorist financier and a facilitator who has provided money, material support and conveyed communications to al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria. In 2013, Naimi ordered the transfer of nearly $600,000 to al-Qaeda via al-Qaeda’s representative in Syria, Abu-Khalid al-Suri.
Ali bin Abdallah al-Suwaidi is the general manager of Mu’assasat ‘Eid bin Muhammad Aal Thani al-Khayriyya (the Eid bin Muhammad al Thani Charitable Society). In this role, Ali al-Suwaidi manages the budget and directs the activities of the charity, including its work with organizations that have been tied to al-Qaeda. According to media reports, Ali al-Suwaidi worked with US sanctioned al-Qaeda financier Abd al-Rahman al-Nuaimi to transfer funds to jihadist militants in Syria, including al-Nusra.
Social networks are another important source of financing. Recruiters in social networks are urging a transfer of money for the aid of militants fighting in Syria. Given that financing terrorism is prosecuted in many countries, the fee is made in disguise to a bank account of an intermediary. The sponsors transfer sums not large enough to attract the attention of bank employees and law enforcement officials. The intermediary then sends money to a foreign bank – to the owner of a money transfer office in Turkey or Jordan for example. He informs his colleague in Syria that the money has come, provides the name of the recipient and gives a password. Money is given from a cash register. Such transactions leave no traces and are hidden from those who are fighting to interdict and disrupt the funding of terrorism.
In addition, the group continues to actively engage in kidnapping, extortion, and collection of taxes from citizens and businesses in controlled areas.
The group also developed a scheme to collect funds from small and medium-sized businesses in territories which are not directly controlled by HTS, but territories that host enough HTS emissaries and combat groups to the extent that those groups can facilitate racketeering.
Al-Qaeda, as the lead organization which promotes the idea of ​​ultra-radical Islam, is in financial crisis. It receives less and less financing from sympathetic individuals and from so called charitable foundations, to carry out its terrorist activities. This necessitated some optimization of costs. The movement had to change its tactics and constructed a new model, aimed at interacting with self-sufficient extremist organizations which do not require support from the lead organization. In this format, al-Qaeda plays a dual rule. First, it acts as a military adviser and mediator for radical Islamist groups. Secondly, it sends authoritative clergymen to various war zones. Al-Qaeda also provides local groups with their own schemes for the transfer of funds, facilitates the creation of enterprises, and provides information to support local organizations.
Loss of influence after the battle for Aleppo and the role in Syria after ISIS
When Aleppo was captured by government troops in late 2016, the appearance of HTS signaled a new phase of restructuring of the radical opposition in Syria. Yet another attempt to rebrand was nothing more than a formal effort by al-Qaeda to dissociate itself from its supporters in Syria, as well as its desire to withdraw moderate Islamists from the negotiation process on the future of Syria in Astana. The leadership of HST wanted to overpower and if that failed, to destroy the entities that are part of Ahrar al-Sham. They sought to become the single center of Sunni militarism in Syria. This caused a split among the opposition, and the most radical of its representatives moved to the newly created Hayat Tahrir al Sham, which marked the beginning of a conflict between the two largest groups in Idlib.
To support its strategy, HTS operates through four main bureaus: General Administration of Services; Military and security operations wing; Dawah and Guidance Office; and Sharia courts.
There are 156 Local Councils operating in the Idlib province with the following administrative divisions: 9% City Councils, 30% Town Councils, and 61% Municipal Councils. Of these Local Councils, 86 operate in HTS-controlled areas—14% City Councils, 39% Town Councils, and 47% Municipal Councils.
In August 2017 a conflict arose between the local city council of Idlib and the General Administration for Services, which is connected with HTS. The latter began the process of making unilateral decisions. The General Administration for Services issued circulars for local councils, informing them that it was the only body with the authority to monitor their work and required the transfer of the relevant council departments to the specialized agencies of the movement. In particular, this affected services which supply water and bread as well as transport. The city council rejected the request and on August 28, 2017, HTS units stormed the city council building of Idlib and ordered all those who disagreed with the policy to leave the building. In this way radical Islamists gained control over administrative services of the city.
The process where smaller formations join or leave the grouping is not static. On November 14, 2017, representatives of the group “Ajnad al-Sham” announced through twitter that they are joining Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Ajnad al-Sham militants participated in earlier clashes with the Syrian Arab Army in western Aleppo, in the north part of the province of Ham and in the province of Idlib. In late October, there was information that the central division of the FSA, Faylaq al-Sham, and Jaysh al-Izza also joined Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham also conducted operations against smaller militant groups, who then sought support from Ahrar al-Sham. For instance, the group “Jash Mujahideen” was attacked by terrorists of Hayat Tahrir al- Sham in January 2017. At this time the radical Islamists seized warehouses with weapons. After that, part of Jash Mujahideen’s forces were forced to join Ahrar al-Sham, while the other part joined HTS.
Be that as it may, year after year HTS leadership adamantly follows its goal – the unification of all jihadist organizations in Syria under its leadership and the construction of the emirate. Radical Islamists are strongly established in the province of Idlib, and will do all they can to prevent the creation of a de-escalation zone.
Conclusion
The following conclusions and analysis can be drawn from all the information presented thus far. After the defeat of the IS in Iraq and Syria, the most effective group that stands to oppose Assad’s regime remains Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. This movement has the necessary number of trained militants in its ranks to confront the government army, it has a rather positive image when compared with the IS, and advocates the idea of opposing “the betrayal of the interests of the people of Syria.” Meanwhile, the conflict between the factions within the movement itself, the conflicts with other armed groups, the reduction of logistical support, and problems with financing, all lead to a gradual degradation of HTS. We can conclude that to overcome these problems, the leadership of the movement may hold another re-branding. This conclusion is based on the fact that, at a turning point in its existence, al-Nusra / HTS is able, in words, to abandon the ideas of radical Islam in order to preserve their ability for an armed struggle, and to establish itself as a legitimate and independent force in the ongoing war . It seems that there is a desire on the part of HTS to become a Sunni version of Hezbollah. In this effort, the group could receive support from some concerned foreign parties.
The clashes and reluctance to compromise with the moderate opposition, continued conflict with the increasingly capable government army, and the never ending struggle for resources – have all reaped poor results for the group, and highlight the poor choice of strategies adopted by HTS thus far. Without external help, HTS will not be able to confront, for any extended periods of time, the SAA and the Russian Aerospace Forces.

هذا ما سمعتُه عن المطران كبوجي من الأمين بديع الشدراوي والرفيق عزيز إبراهيم الشرفاء دائماً حاضرون حتى وإن رحلوا عن الوجود

المصدر

يوسف المسمار

في 28 نيسان 2020 غيّب الموت في البرازيل، الأمين بديع الشدراوي الجزيل الاحترام والعاطر الذكر، وهو من المناضلين القوميين الذين أدّوا أدواراً كبيرة في مقاومة الاحتلال.

قبل رحيله، تلقيت منه اتصالاً يشكرني فيه على نشر قول أنطون سعاده «العالم كله بحاجة إلى فلسفتنا» بلغات عدّة، وقال لي: «أحسنت يا رفيق يوسف. يجب أن يعرف العالم كله مَن هو أنطون سعاده ومَن هم نحن تلامذة أنطون سعاده الأوفياء النظاميون المناقبيون في الحزب الذي أسسه لنهضة الأمة السورية وماذا أعطت الأمة السورية الحضارية للعالم». وقد شكرته وأكدت بأن «حزبنا مدرسة حياة مَن نجح فيها تخرّج وتألّق، ومن استهان بها فشل وأخفق».

وخلال الاتصال أتينا على ذكر المطران ايلاريون كبوجي فقال لي الأمين بديع: «المطران رفيقنا وأنا أعرفه وأعرف أشياء كثيرة عنه قام بها من أجل الحزب والأمة. وقد كان ملاحقاً أثناء الانتداب الفرنسي ولم تتمكن السلطات الفرنسية من معرفته والقبض عليه، لأنه كان يحمل اسماً آخر هو اسم الرفيق جورج ينشط به حزبياً غير اسمه بالإضافة الى جانب نشاطه الديني». وقال لي الأمين بديع بأنه سيرسل كل ما يعرفه عن المطران كبوجي لتضمينها في مقال أكتبه، لكن القدر خطفه قبل أن يزوّدني بالمعلومات.

هنا، لا بدّ من الإشارة إلى المقابلة التي أجرتها الإعلامية جودي يعقوب مع المطران كبوجي وفيها يقول: «إنّ حل الأزمة السورية يكمن بالفكر السوري، فكم نحن بحاجة إلى كل المنادين بفكرة وحدة الأمة السورية مثل أنطون سعاده، لأن الرهان اليوم هو على الذين يؤمنون بفكرة الوحدة، من أجل أن نرتقي بسورية نحو الخلود».

وما يؤكد انتماء المطران كبوجي أنه كان يحبّ العرب ولا يحبّ الأعراب، ويقول بالعروبة العربيّة التمدنيّة العلميّة الواقعيّة الصحيحة ولا يقول بالأعرابية.

وهنا لا بد من الإشارة إلى ما جاء في محاضرة سعاده التي تحت عنوان «الاتحاد العملي في حياة الأمم» في النادي الفلسطيني سنة 1933: «وهل يضيرنا ان يكون بعضنا عرباً والعرب برهنوا بفتوحاتهم وما أدّوه للمدنية من خدمات أنهم شعب لهم مزايا تمكنه من القيام بأعباء المدنية متى وجد في محيط صالح. فالعرب في الأندلس – والسوريون كانوا يشكلون قسماً هاماً في الأندلس ضمن التسمية العربية – كانوا من أهم عوامل ترقية المدنية في العلوم وإطلاق حرية الفكر حتى أصبحت اللغة العربية لغة العلم في الشرق والغرب».

عروبة المطران كبوجي هي العروبة الواقعية العلمية التمدنية الصحيحة وليست العروبة الطائفية اللغوية الوهمية المتخلفة الزائفة. وقيامة العالم العربي وجبهة المجتمعات العربية لا ولن تتحققان بالطائفية المكفّرة، واللغوية المتبجّحة، والأوهام الخرافية، والتقهقر الأخلاقي المدمّر، بل تتحقق بالمفهوم السوري القومي الاجتماعي ومبادئ الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي وغايته وبالعقلية المناقبية القومية الاجتماعية.

وفي هذا السياق يقول المطران كبوجي للإعلامية يعقوب إن مَن يقرأ كتاب المحاضرات العشر «بتأنٍّ وتمعّن وتدبّر يفهم معنى العروبة الواقعية الصحيحة ويهجر العروبة الطائفيّة اللغويّة الوهميّة. وهذا هو إيماني لأن العروبة الواقعية العلمية هي لخير سورية ولخير العرب. وسورية القومية الاجتماعية هي لصالح العالم العربي كما هي لصالح سورية».

لقد كان للمطران كبوجي نوعان من النشاط في حلب: نشاط ديني علني ونشاط سوري قومي اجتماعي سري باسم آخر، ولمعرفة سبب لقاء راهب الدير كبوجي بالعمرين: الشاعر عمر أبو ريشة والأمين عمر أبو زلام هي أن الثلاثة كانوا بمهممة إدخال أحد المقبلين على الدعوة القومية الاجتماعية وقد عيّنوا له موعداً لأداء القسم الحزبي. وقبل ان ينطلقوا الى مكان الاجتماع المعيّن طلب منهم الراهب كبوجي أن يرتدوا ثياب رهبان لإبعاد الشبهة عنهم وتوجّه الثلاثة الى المكان المخصص لاداء القسم ومروا في طريقهم في سوق الهال ومعهم القَسَم الحزبي مكتوباً باليد، فظهرت أمامهم وفاجأتهم في السوق دورية من الشرطة الفرنسية فأمرهما المسؤول الرفيق جورج الذي هو الراهب كبوجي أن يخفوا الورقة المكتوب عليها القسم وأن الأمر الذي وجّهه لهما بكل «سلطان ورهبة»، كما ورد في قصة الحزب للأمين الدكتور شوقي خيرالله هو لإخفاء الورقة التي كتب عليها القسم، لأن السلطات الفرنسية كانت تعتبر القوميين الاجتماعيين مخرّبين لرفضهم الاحتلال الفرنسي ومقاومته، وتلاحقهم في كل مكان تواجدوا فيه.

وبالفعل أخفوا الورقة التي كتب عليها قَسَم الانتماء الى الحزب في قلب المكسّرات أو البهارات. وهذه القصة سمعتها من الرفيق الراحل عزيز إبراهيم ناظر إذاعة منفذية البرازيل العامة وهو من منطقة انطاكية والإسكندرون التي تنازلت عنها فرنسا لتركيا.

والرفيق عزيز ابراهيم كان رجل أعمال، وكان يملك مصنعاً كبيراً للنسيج في سان باولو، وكان على علاقة قوية مع الشاعر عمر أبو ريشة والمسؤول الأول عن طباعة خمسين نسخة في كتاب مختارات «من شعر عمر أبو ريشة» الذي وصل الى 300 صفحة عندما قدم الشاعر الى سان باولو كمسؤول دبلوماسي للكيان الشامي السوري وقدّمها كهدية من المؤلف لمستوصف القديس يوحنا في سان باولو – البرازيل. وقد خصّني الرفيق عزيز إبراهيم بنسخة من الكتاب قائلاً لي: لقد طبعنا خمسين نسخة من هذه المختارات من شعر الرفيق الشاعر عمر أبو ريشة. كما أرسل لزوجتي هدية قطعة من القماش المصنوع في مصنعه مع ابنه المهندس بشارة عزيز إبراهيم بعد زواجنا. وفي إحدى المرات التقينا في سان باول بدعوة على الغذاء من الأمين ألبرتو شكور وكان معنا الأمين نواف حردان والرفيق أديب بندقي، قال لي أثناءها الرفيق الراحل عزيز إبراهيم: «لقد حدثني الأمين البرتو أنك تقوم بترجمة مبادئ الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي الى اللغة البرتغالية فسررتُ جداً بهذا الخبر. وأقول لك إن سعاده في قبره يشكرك على هذا العمل».

من أقوال المطران كبوجي

1 –

«على أصوات المساجد وهي تصدح الله أكبر، وعلى أصوات الأجراس في الكنيسة، نحن عائدون إلى قدسنا الحبيبة».

2 –

«عائدون مهما طال الزمن ومهما بهض الثمن، والحق يعلو ولا يُعلى عليه، وطالما هناك شعب وفيّ هو الشعب الفلسطيني، فحتماً عائدون».

3 –

«يسعد صباحكم والله يجمعنا بكم قريباً في الناصرة… فعندما اسمع صوتكم انتعش. أنتم بالنسبة لي أوكسجين الحياة لقد صلّيت في قاعة المؤتمر لسلامة سورية وفلسطين والناصرة وكل بلاد الشام».

هكذا بدأ سيادة مطران القدس في المنفى المطران هيلاريون كابوتشي حديثه خلال مغادرته مدينة مونتريو، حيث شارك في الجلسة الافتتاحية لمؤتمر جنيف 2 حول سورية.

4 –

« لقد صليت ولكن… يد واحدة لا تصفق. فإن لم يبنِ الرب البيت عبثاً يتعب البناؤون… إن لم نرفق العمل بالصلاة فعملنا سيبقى بدون جدوى، لقد كنت داخل القاعة أصلي لربنا رب السلام والمحبة… وحتى يعمّ السلام العالم أجمع، والشرق الأوسط… يعمّ الناصرة وفلسطين وكل سورية وكل بلد عربي، فكفانا عذاباً. كل مدة وجودي في القاعة كنت أصلي من أجل السلام في العالم أجمع ونجاحه في فلسطين وفي الناصرة وفي كل سورية».

5 –

«أنا رجل دين الله رب العالمين، ورجل دين الله هو أيضاً مواطن، وحب الأوطان من الإيمان والذي لا يحبّ وطنه، لا يحبّ ربه. وايماني بربي هو من محبتي لوطني».

6 –

«وردًا على سؤال عن مشاركته في افتتاح المؤتمر وجلوسه على طاولة الوفد الرسمي السوري قال المطران كابوتشي: «نعم نعم.. كنتُ جالساً ضمن الوفد السوري الرسمي».

7 –

«وتابع المطران كبوجي: «لقد حضرت بتلقاء نفسي دون دعوة من أحد.. أنا لست بحاجة لدعوة من أحد لأذهب وأصلي وأعمل من اجل السلام لبلادي ولشعبي ولخلاصهما من القتل والدمار والإرهاب.. نعم رحت الى هناك الى سويسرا ومنها أنا مستعد للذهاب الى اي مكان في العالم من اجل السلام..».

8 –

« وعن مفاجأة الوفد السوري واستقباله له قال المطران كبوجي: «ما بتقدر تتصوّر. أنا عشت السماء على الأرض. مباشرة احتضنوني ضمن الوفد… كانت سورية أمامي بشعبها ورئيسها متألقة.. سورية كانت في السماء. سورية رغم كل الجراح تتأمل خيرًا. فما نيل المطالب بالتمني ولكن تؤخذ الدنيا غلابا. وحبة الحنطة إن لم تمُت في الأرض لا تُنضج سنبلة. سر الحياة وخصبها أنها تموت. وإنما هي تموت لكي تعيش، هكذا هي سورية شكلاً وروحاً».

9 –

«سورية هي وطني وشعبها شعبي، فإذا لم أعترف بذلك، فأي بلاد أخرى غيرها يمكن أن اعتبرها بلادي؟».

10 –

«سورية هي السماء على الأرض وهي دائماً في السماء، ولسلامها دائماً أعمل وأصلّي. فالدنيا لا تؤخذ بالصلاة وحدها، بل بالعمل أيضاً. الدنيا لا تؤخذ بالتمني بل تؤخذ غلابا».

هذا هو المطران كبوجي السوري القومي الاجتماعي الذي قال: «اذا لم أعترف بأن سورية وطني وشعبها شعبي، فأي بلاد أخرى غيرها يمكن أن أعتبرها بلادي؟!».

كاتب وشاعر قومي مقيم في البرازيل

المطران ايلاريون كبوجي و«العمران»: عمر ابو ريشة وعمر ابو زلام

القومي الاجتماعي المطران كبوجي

الامين د. شوقي خيرالله

المسلسل الذي يُعرض عن المطران الوطني ايلاريون كبوجي، والذي يتابعه عدد كبير من المهتمين، غنيٌّ بالمعلومات التاريخية المفيدة ومنها ما يشير الى كل من الامين عمر ابو زلام وعمر ابو ريشة الذين كنت نشرت عن عضويتهما والمطران كبوجي في الحزب، نقلاً عن كتاب «قصة الحزب» للامين شوقي خيرالله

أعيد نشره مجدداً لمزيد من فائدة الاطلاع

لعل ابرز الرفقاء الذين عرفوا المطران، الوطني والقومي الاجتماعي ايلاريون كبوجي هو الامين سركيس ابو زيد، الذي ندعوه لان يحكي الكثير عن المطران المميّز الذي ما زلنا نذكره بكثير من الاعجاب ومن الفخر.


عندما نعلم انه في شبابه انتمى الى الحزب، نفهم أكثر مواقفه الوطنية الناصعة، وتحديه الجريء للاحتلال الاسرائيلي، وتقديمه الكثير من الدعم للمقاومة في مواجهة ذلك الاحتلال.


في كتابه «قصه الحزب» يروي الامين د. شوقي خيرالله التالي، ننقله بالنص الحرفي:

« همّنا من هذا المختصر، ونحن على المقاعد الثانوية في مدرسة الحكمة ـــ بيروت ـــ أن استاذاً يدعى جوزف الخوري(1)، العبقرّي في الرياضيات، والعضو في الحزب، كان موقوفاً في حلب. وحُكِم بالإعدام، بتهمة التعاون مع الالمان ضد الحلفاء، لأنه «سلّمهم خرائط عسكريّة لمطار النيرب في حلب». فحكمه الإعدام. وقلما نام احد من الطلاّب الداخليين في مدرسة الحكمة لان الحكم وشيك التنفيذ. وتقول الاسطورة حتى اليوم إنه رُبط على العامود وتهيأت مفرزة الاعدام، وإلاّ وصل العفو لان المطران مبارك توسّط لجوزف لدى الجنرال «دانتز» فعفا عنه. فلّما عاد جوزف الخوري الى التعليم في مدرسة الحكمة / بيروت شعرنا بالنصر !! والملفت ان الزعيم لما دخل الزنزانة ليلة 8 تموز سأله الخفير: ما هو حكمك؟ أجابه: إعدام مبرم، ولفّ سترته مخدة ونام وأغفى في نومة عميقة كأنه راح يفكّر بعمل مشابه، فوق!!

« وتضيف الاسطورة / الملحمة، في حلب، وهي حقيقية، ان الدعوة الحزبيّة ضد الانتداب يتولاها عُمَران اثنان، ويضاف إليهما مجهول ثالث. العمَران يجهلان ثالثهما!! هو يعرفهما، جوزف الخوري المعدوم غداً يعرف ان عرّابيه هما ــ ربما ــ عضوان سرّيان في حلب، شبحان خفيّان يدّعيان / تمويها / إنهما عمر وعمر. وأما ملقّن القسم فسرّي كذلك. والثلاثة اذا كُمشوا سيُحكمون بالاعدام، والشعبة الثانية الفرنسيّة تفتش عليهما كما عن إبرة في التبّان، في حلب وبلاد حلب.

« اليوم نبوح بالاسمين: العمران هما عمر وعمر فعلاً: «عمر أبو زلام ابن مفتي حلب. وعمر أبو ريشة، الشاعر المبتدىء، ابن زعيم قبائل «ابو ريشة».. والمجهول الثالث هو الراهب كبّوجي. هذا سيصبح مطراناً على القدس، وسيكمشه الإستعمار اليهوديّ وهو مطران، بتهمة تهريب سلاح لفتح، وسبحان من يُحبك الاعمار، ويشبّك الاقدار !! ويا ما أصغر الدنيا!! ويا ما أكبر النهضة!

« في ذلك الزمان كانت مخابرات الإنتداب الفرنسي، في حلب وشمالي سورية، تلاحق «شبح العمرَين» ولا يدرون هل هما اثنان فعلاً أم شخص واحد ينتحل المثنّى. وقد عاث هذا «المثنّى» فساداً في حلب ومنطقتها لأنه يبّشر بالعقيدة القومية السورية»، وقد قسّم الثنائي القسَمَ لعدد غير قليل. والمؤسس أنطون سعاده منفيّ الى آخر الدنيا في اميركا الجنوبية، والعقيدة هذه سبق لها ان قاومت ضمّ الاسكندرون الى تركيا، وهي تقاوم الإنتداب اولاً وآخراً، وأشاع عملاء المفوضية العليا ان الحزب يؤيّد الألمان ضد الحلفاء!! وثمة سيّئات اُخر لدى هؤلاء المخرّبين القوميّين فهم يقاومون الهجرة اليهوديّة الى فلسطين لأن «فلسطينهم» جزء لا يتجزأ من «سوريّاهم» كما تنصّ عقيدتهم، وثمة الف شربوكة أخرى وكأن عندهم لاهوتاً وعلم كلام!!

« الأمن العام «والدزيام بيرو» ـــ الشعبة الثانية ـــ الفرنسيّون والمخبرون والعملاء راجعوا سجلاّت النفوس تفتيشاً دقيقاً عن جميع من إسمهم عُمر، وزاروا كلّ عمر في بيته. وهدّدوا الأهل بالاعتقال والسجن والإعدام إذا تبيّن أن عمَرَهم من هذه الفئة المغضوب عليهم والضالّين. وكان من الذين هُدِّدوا والد عمر ابو زلام مفتي حلب، ووالد عمر ابو ريشة زعيم عشائر أبو ريشة في الشمال السورّي. وبرغم التنبيه والتهديد ونشاط العسس والمخبرين وجوائز المخبرين لم يتوقّف النشاط المخرّب. وراح الطوق يضيق.

« في إحدى الليالي، وفي عمق أعماق سوق البهارات والأفاويه وتلك المحلات العَقْد الدهرية في أقبية من عمرِ «ماري» و»الحثّيين» وقبل الخبز، كان العمَران في مهمّة ليلية ليكرّسا عضواً جديداً بقسم الانتماء في تلك الأقبية، بعد الأقفال العام وبالكاد على ضوء الشمعة، والاّ دخل عليهما تلميذ / راهب من الدير ومدرسة اللاهوت، وبالأسكيم الأسود التقليدي وقبعته الدهرية، فشلح عنه اول إسكيم وشلح الثاني بسلطان وغضب ـــ وكان يرتديهما فوق إسكيمه الاصيل ــ وأمرهما مثل رومل: «فليرتدِ كلّ منكما إسكيمه! وبَكّلا القبّوعة جيّداً!! ولا يبقينّ معكما أي اثر للمبادىء والعمل الحزبيّ!! إدفنوا المبادىء في أكياس البهار!! وسيرا خلفي بغير كلام ولا سلام مطلقاً! ولا تتفوها بكلمة!! أنتما راهبان معي. ورائي!!

ورائي!! وانطلقَ. تبعاه الى قبوة من أيام الطوفان ويا ما أحلى سوق البهارات الحلبيّة!! ولما دخلا أغلق عليهما الباب. وانصرف. وهي كانت!!

في اليوم التالي دخل عليهما برغيف شبيّع لكلِ منهما وأمرهما باتّباعه بصمت وبغير سلام لأحد. في البساتين كان راهب آخر ينتظر فابتعد بهما عن حلب مثل هون وحلب. وأمرهما كبوجي بلهجة «تبلّغوا وبلّغوا»، بالبقاء هناك حتى آتي بذاتي لأنقلكما. مفهوم؟؟ مفهوم!! واستدار وغاب في بساتين حلب على موسيقى الفستق المتفتّح، واذا جعتما فكلا من البستان وما فيه! حاكمك وربّك!!! وجلسا لا يصدّقان ماذا يجري معهما.

طيّب!

ما اسمك؟ سأله أحدهما.

بلا حكي يا رفيق! بل أنتما أيضاً إنسيا من انتما!! مفهوم؟؟ فبركا اسمين جديدين وتخاطبا بهما حتى تعتاد الأذن!! واختفى.

هكذا تعرّف العمران على كبّوجي بغير اسم ولا رسم. وهل لراهب اسم؟؟


هوامش:

1 –

عبد الغني اسرب: كان يملك بيتاً رحباً وفخماً كان سعاده سينزل في فندق «السياحة والاصطياف» عند وصوله الى مدينة اللاذقية، الا ان ناظر التدريب الرفيق عبد القادر اسرب(3) اخبر والده عبد الغني بالاجراء المتخذ ، فاظهر والدا عبد القادر سرورهما باستضافة الزعيم في منزلهما.

2 –

فؤاد شواف واديب عازار: منحا رتبة الامانة، ولكل منهما نضاله الحزبي الطويل. اوردت عن كليهما في نبذات سابقة، وأعمل على إعداد نبذة تعريفية مضيئة عن كل منهما.

3 –

عبد القادر اسرب: تعرفت على ابنائه الرفقاء: اثنان منهما في الولايات المتحدة، والثالث المهندس فادي، التقيت به في بيروت اكثر من مرة.

AL-JULANI GOES ON PR TOUR AS PROTESTS AGAINST HTS HEAT UP (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

South Front

In one of his fairly usual PR stunts, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani paid a visit to some of his injured militants in an unspecified hospital in Greater Idlib.

In several photos released by HTS on May 2, al-Julani can be seen meeting and greeting a number of his fighters who lost limbs or got paralyzed in recent battles with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies. The notorious terrorist was wearing white gloves, likely to protect himself from the novel COVID-19.

Al-Julani Goes On PR Tour As Protests Against HTS Heat Up (Photos, Videos)
Al-Julani Goes On PR Tour As Protests Against HTS Heat Up (Photos, Videos)
Al-Julani Goes On PR Tour As Protests Against HTS Heat Up (Photos, Videos)
Al-Julani Goes On PR Tour As Protests Against HTS Heat Up (Photos, Videos)
Al-Julani Goes On PR Tour As Protests Against HTS Heat Up (Photos, Videos)
Al-Julani Goes On PR Tour As Protests Against HTS Heat Up (Photos, Videos)

The visit was clearly meant to promote al-Julani as a leader of Greater Idlib. In the last few weeks, al-Julani received a backlash over a plan to open a crossing with government-held areas.

Earlier this week, HTS opened the crossing in western Aleppo, challenging some local protesters. The group’s security forces clashed with the protesters, killing a civilian and injuring many others.

The incident provoked a wave of protests in Greater Idlib. This forced HTS to suspend work in the crossing, at least for the time being

Al-Julani’s little PR stunt didn’t go too well. Many in Greater Idlib saw his visit as a provocation. As a result, a new wave of protests against HTS and al-Julani took place.

The recent events indicate that HTS’ popularity in Greater Idlib is declining. The terrorist group’s confrontation with the Turkish military also played a role in this.

With its popularity declining, HTS may resume operations against the SAA. The terrorist group could also move against opponents in Greater Idlib, similar to what happened over the last two years.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

GOLAN HEIGHTS ESCALATION AND NEW DRAMA IN IDLIB



https://southfront.org/golan-heights-escalation-and-new-drama-in-idlib/

Early on May 1, several missiles launched from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights hit positions of the Syrian Army near Tell Ahmar and Quneitra city. The strike reportedly led to no casualties among Syrian personnel, but destroyed several pieces of military equipment.

This was the second Israeli strike on Syria in less than a week. On April 27, Israeli airstrikes hit the countryside of Damascus, including the al-Mazzeh Airport. Pro-Israeli sources claim that underground facilities of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were the target.

Meanwhile, a new drama is developing in the militant-held part of Greater Idlib. After briefly clashing with the Turkish Army near Nayrab, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham found themselves in the center of a new scandal.

On April 30, the group’s fighters were confronted by supporters of other radical groups in the town of Maaret Elnaasan in western Aleppo. According to pro-opposition sources, the main reason of tensions is the decision of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to open a crossing for commercial purposes to the government-held area. This initiative faced resistance among militant groups directly controlled by Turkey. The Turkish Army even tried to block a road towards Maaret Elnaasan. However, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants were able to suppress the protest and the crossing was opened. The further protests that continued on May 1 forced Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to close the crossing.

Earlier in April, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham tried to open a similar commercial crossing near Saraqib, but this attempt was also blocked by Turkish-led forces.

Representatives of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham claim that the opening of such crossings is vital to contain the developing economic crisis in the militant-held area. According to them, a large part of goods produced within the militant-held area, first of all food, is being sold in the government-controlled territory.

Various fees on commercial activities and contraband traffic are among key sources of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham budget, which has been facing difficulties amid the shirking funding from its foreign sponsors. On the other hand, the ability to fill own budget from independent sources of income allows the terrorist group to remain to a large degree independent from direct Turkish support. Thus, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is capable of remaining a relatively independent player and the most powerful militant group in the entire Greater Idlib.

At least 4 Syrian soldiers were killed and several others were injured in an ISIS attack on the army convoy near the T3 pumping station in the province of Homs. The terrorists used an improvised explosive device to strike the bus moving within the convoy and then shelled it with machine guns.

The attack likely came in response to the intensified security efforts of the army in the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert. Just recently, government troops eliminated several ISIS militants and captured 2 vehicles belonging to the terrorist group.

TURKEY SHELLS SYRIAN ARMY IN ALEPPO. U.S. THREATENS TO SINK IRANIAN SHIPS IN GULF

South Front

In the second half of the week the military situation in Syria’s western Aleppo escalated.

On April 22, Turkish forces shelled positions of the Syrian Army in western Aleppo. Pro-Turkish sources claimed that this shelling was a response to Syrian Army strikes on positions of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other al-Qaeda-linked groups near the villages of Kafr Amma, al-Qasr, Kafr Taal and Kafr Nouran. Pro-government sources described these strikes however as a defensive measure to counter regular ceasefire violations by Turkish-backed militants.

On April 23, the Syrian Army reinforced its positions east of Atraib by deploying additional troops and equipment there. If Turkish forces and Idlib militants continue attacks on Syrian Army positions in western Aleppo, open military hostilities could resume in the area.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham executed a 19-yo Syrian refugee deported from Turkey to Greater Idlib. Mohamad Aqib Hamam Tanu was killed on April 20 after militants found that SMS messages in his phone contained criticism of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham remains the most powerful group in Greater Idlib and controls most of the militant-held area in the region, including Idlib city, the border with Turkey and key positions on the contact line with the Syrian Army. The Turkish leadership in fact provides direct support to the terrorist group by turning a blind eye to its crimes and protecting it from the Syrian Army.

More details appeared about the recent Israeli strike on Syria. According to fresh data, the Israeli strikes targeted a command center of Hezbollah near the town of al-Sukhnah, a training camp of the Iranian-backed Afghan Fatemiyoun Brigade in the al-Tulilah reserve near Palmyra, and a base of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps within the Palmyra Air Base. Despite this, the only confirmed casualties resulting from the strike were 3 Syrian service members.

Pro-government locals intercepted another US military convoy in the province of al-Hasakah. On April 22, locals stopped the US convoy near the town of Farfarah, stoned it and forced US troops to retreat. The incident happened near a Syrian Army checkpoint.

The Asayish security unit of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces commented on the recent clashes with the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF) in al-Qamishly city. The Kurdish force accused pro-government fighters of destabilizing the situation and threatened them with military action. In their turn, pro-NDF sources claim that the tensions in the city result from the violent behavior of Asayish personnel, who are putting pressure on and discriminating against Arab locals on ethnic grounds.

On April 22, US President Donald Trump said that he has given orders to attack and destroy any fast attack craft of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Navy that “harass” US warships. Encounters between the IRGC Navy and US warships erupt in the Persian Gulf on a regular basis. All these confrontations have a similar pattern: the US leadership sends warships, including aircraft carriers, to the Persian Gulf describing this as a show of force and a ‘strong message’ to Iran. IRGC fast attack craft deploy to track and monitor the US warships, as well as to prevent any attempts to enter Iranian waters. In response, the US accuses Iran of aggressive actions and provocations.

The most recent incident of this kind happened on April 15 when 11 IRGC Navy fast boats tracked 6 US warships: the USS Lewis B. Puller, USS Paul Hamilton, USS Firebolt, USS Sirocco, USCGC Wrangell and USCGC Maui.

Any US Navy attempts to attack IRGC Navy fast attack craft operating in Iranian or international waters in the Persian Gulf would immediately lead to a new round of military escalation in the region. Just recently, the Iranian military deployed additional coastal defense missile systems near the Straight of Hormuz.

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Turkish Forces Clash With Their Own Proxies On M4 Highway In Southern Idlib

South Front

On April 13, the Turkish Army and its proxies from the so-called Free Syrian Police clashed with supporters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other radical Idlib groups east of the town of Nayrab on the M4 highway.

According to sources loyal to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham a few hundred members of the Free Syrian Police and a few dozen Turkish troops were involved in the operation. After a series of clashes with radicals, they removed an improvised protest camp set up east of Nayrab. At some moment, Turkish forces even appeared to be engaged in a firefight with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants, but the situation quickly de-escalated and the protest camp blocking the highway re-appeared a few km to the west of its previous location.

Pro-Turkish media immediately branded the April 13 developments as a heroic attempt to de-block the M4 highway and finally launch joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the entire pre-agreed to M4 security zone. This explanation is far from reality. The de-escalation deal remains far from any kind of real implementation. The area of the supposed security zone is still in the hands of al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Ankara had no opportunity to ignore the radicals’ nest east of Nayrab because it could put an end to even the current ‘limited’ format of the joint Russian-Turkish patrols. All 3 previous joint patrols took place in the limited area between Saraqib and Nayrab because of security reasons. If the camp east of Nayrab was not removed, even such patrols would be no longer possible.

However, even this limited move caused a new wave of tensions between Turkish-controlled armed groups and their more independent allies. A firefight erupted between members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Turkish proxies from Faylaq Sham near the village of Msibin on the M4 highway.

Earlier, tensions between members of Turkey’s Syrian National Army and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham-led forces were reported north of Daraat Izzah in western Aleppo.

Any Turkish attempts to de-block the M4 highway west of Nayrab will likely lead to a larger escalation in the area and may lead to more attacks on Turkish forces in Greater Idlib. The previous two IED attacks happened just after joint Turkish-Russian patrols west of Saraqib. The situation in Greater Idlib is in stalemate.

On the one hand, Ankara cannot continue ignoring attempts of groups that it funds to undermine its own attempts to implement the de-escalation deal with Russia at least formally. On the other hand, it does not want to use force to neutralize radicals in southern Idlib because the very same militants are the core of its influence in this part of Syria.

An explosion erupted on a natural gas pipeline in the area of al-Shadadi in the province of al-Hasakah. The incident happened just near the al-Jisba oil field controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition. According to Kurdish sources, it remains unclear what group was behind the attack. Nonetheless, it is no secret that ISIS cells have recently increased their activities within the SDF-held area on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

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