Yemeni/Syrian Uni students from Aleppo protest against ‘US-Saudi war’

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Description:

TV report by the Al Masirah satellite channel on a protest event held by Yemeni and Syrian students from Aleppo University, in condemnation of the continuing ‘US-Saudi war on Yemen’.

Source: Hona Al Masirah (YouTube Channel)

Date: April 4, 2021

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Transcript:

Reporter:

From Aleppo, here is Sana’a and here is Yemen. The Yemeni Students’ Union at Aleppo University has held an event marking the National Day of Steadfastness under the auspices of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party’s leadership, and in the presence of the Yemeni ambassador to Syria and the accompanying delegation.

Abdullah Ali Sabri, Yemeni ambassador to Syria:

The war on our country is an American aggression par excellence. The blockade imposed on our people is primarily an American, British and Zionist aggression. And even though Saudi Arabia is spearheading this aggression, it is no longer able to end the war without a U.S. decision. You are witnessing (today) the great signs of ISIS’ defeat, thanks to God, Ansarullah, the army, the popular committees, the steadfastness of the Yemeni people and the skilled revolutionary and political leadership of Sayyid Abdul-Malek al-Houthi (may God protect him).

(…We are open to an) honorable and just peace if they are (indeed) serious about it; otherwise we are ready to fight, as they well know. We are at the beginning of the seventh year (of the US-Saudi-led aggression), and moving forward with the victory from God and His support {and that day the believers will rejoice, In the victory of Allah}.

Reporter:

Syria, represented in the event by the leadership of the Aleppo University Branch of the Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party, stressed its solidarity with the leadership and people of Yemen against the aggression.

Dr. Ibrahim al-Hadid, Secretary of the Aleppo University Branch of Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party of Syria:   

At the heart of aggression, and at the heart of the raging aggression, and the U.S. firepower against the Yemeni people, is that the Yemenis did not forget Palestine. They called for the right of Palestine, and stood by Palestine, despite that some were at the same time normalizing ties (with Israel); opening (Israeli) embassies; and boarding luxury aircrafts to al-Quds and Tel Aviv. The Yemenis have not and will not abandon this cause.      

 Reporter:

The event hall was filled with a large crowd of Syrian, Yemeni and Arab students, who have come, unified, to express their position against the aggression and praise the steadfastness and victories of the Yemeni people.

Adel al-Hadad, a member of the Yemeni Students’ Union at Aleppo university:

We came today, in this celebration of the National Day of Steadfastness, to express the feelings of Arab students, and Yemenis abroad in general, on the victory Yemen is achieving. We are hugely proud of every Yemeni fighter on the frontlines who achieved this victory for the dignity of this Ummah (nation) and the will of Yemen.

Abdullah al-Wasabi, chairman of the Yemeni Students’ Union at Aleppo university:

This is a message from all Yemeni students studying at home and abroad, that they do whatever possible to support the steadfastness of our resistant Yemeni people and convey their oppression and cause, as they are the intellectual elite and the leaders of the future.

Reporter:

(The crowds) stood together in solidarity with Yemen in the square of Aleppo University on the sixth anniversary of Yemen’s steadfastness, where they chanted in condemnation of the aggression’s forces.

The crowd:

“Down, down America”,

“Down, down America”,

 “Down, down Israel”.

Reporter:

At the end of the event, (the Union) honored the event’s sponsor, organisers, and Al Masirah channel for its role in the media confrontation.

Kinan Al-Youssef, Al-Masirah channel, Aleppo.

A HARD LIFE FOR TURKEY AND ITS PROXIES IN NORTHERN SYRIA

 09.04.2021 

South Front

In the North of Syria, the Turkish armed forces and the factions backed by Ankara are attempting to move and are being punished.

This is the case in Greater Idlib, where a Turkish army convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) as it was passing on a road between the towns of al-Bara and Ehsim in the southern part of Idlib.

Saryat Ansar Abu Baker As-Siddiq, a newly-founded al-Qaeda-linked group with unknown origins, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The IED attack was in response to insults to Muslim women in Afrin and Aleppo.

Meanwhile in Afrin, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense announced that two of its soldiers were killed.
The Afrin Liberation Forces (ALF) claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group also released a video showing the two Turkish soldiers being targeted with an anti-tank guided missile during a well-planned ambush in the village of Gobele.

In response, the Turkish Army shelled positions held by Kurdish forces in the town of Tell Rifaat and its outskirts.

Three Kurdish fighters were killed.

In Aleppo, the Turkish proxies are not without success. the Syrian National Army (SNA) shot down an armed drone that was flying over the Turkish-occupied northern part of the countryside.

The drone was a locally-modified copy of the commercially-available X-UAV mini-Talon, used by Kurdish groups.

While the Kurdish forces lose their drones, the Ansar Allah are putting theirs to good use in Yemen.

Early on April 8, the group announced that it had launched a Qasef-2K suicide drone at the Saudi King Khalid Air Base in the southern province of ‘Asir.

The Houthis (as Ansar Allah are more commonly known) said that the drone had struck its target successfully.

On the other hand, the Saudi-led coalition claimed that it had shot down the drone over the city of Khamis Mushait, near King Khalid Air Base.

In the late hours of April 8th, the Houthis targeted the Jizan airport in the southwest of the Kingdom with a Qasef-2K drone.

The airport contains hangars for Saudi warplanes used to carry out airstrikes throughout Yemen.

Additionally, a commander of the Seventh Military District of the Saudi-led coalition was killed in west of the city of Marib.

The Houthis are keeping up their pressure towards the city, despite constant airstrikes by Riyadh’s warplanes.

The Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes appear to be of little effectiveness.

The volatility in the Middle East continues, with rather small movements taking place in most locations.

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Western media quick to accuse Syria of ‘bombing hospitals’ – but when TERRORISTS really destroy Syrian hospitals, they are silent

 Aleppo’s Al-Kindi hospital, one of the best cancer hospitals in the Middle East.

*Dec 2013: FSA & Al-Qaeda bomb and completely destroy Aleppo’s Al-Kindi hospital, one of the best cancer hospitals in the Middle East.

moi

March 24, 2021, RT.com

-by Eva K Bartlett

As legacy media again bleat the unsubstantiated “Syria is bombing hospitals” chorus of its war propaganda songbook, let’s pause to review the relatively unknown (but verifiable) reality of terrorists bombing hospitals in Syria.

Following recent allegations of a hospital being targeted Al Atarib, western Aleppo, the US State Department repeated the claim, in spite of any clear evidence to back it up.

Instead, reports rely on highly questionable sources like the White Helmets, the USAID-funded Syrian American Medical Society and the usual unnamed “witnesses” and (clearly impartial!) “rebel sources,” as per a Reuters’ report on the recent claims.

In fact, Reuters even acknowledges being unable to verify the authenticity of videos purporting to show “a ward damaged and civil defence rescuers carrying bloodstained patients outside.”

Let’s recall that Idlib is occupied by Al-Qaeda in Syria – a fact emphasized (as I wrote) by the US’ own former special envoy, Brett McGurk, who deemed the northwestern Syrian province the “largest Al-Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11.

The presence of Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups makes it impossible for independent, neutral bodies to assess what is going on.

Facts matter, they say. But really, not so much when it comes to war propaganda.

In Sarmada, Idlib countryside, one of the targets was a Tahrir al-Sham (Al-Qaeda in Syria) fuel market, the smuggled fuel tankers obliterated.

A White Helmets video supposedly filmed in Al-Atarib alleges a hospital was bombed there. It indeed shows what looks like a medical facility covered in dust, and a lot of bulky men of fighting age. Glaringly absent are women or normal looking civilians.

Given the White Helmets’ penchant for working only in areas controlled by terrorist factions, working with them and even numbering among them, dabbling in organ trade, and having lied many times in the past, the video proves nothing.

There is, on the other hand, a precedent for “hospitals” or medical centres being weaponized by terrorists. And not just once or twice, but repeatedly in terrorist-occupied areas throughout Syria.

I’ve seen them in Aleppo and eastern Ghouta.

The Eye and Childrens’ Hospitals, a large complex in eastern Aleppo, was militarized and occupied by terrorists including the Tawhid Brigade, Al-Qaeda and even IS (Islamic State, formerly ISIS). Prisoners were held, and tortured, in nightmarish prisons and solitary confinement cells deep below. 

As journalist Vanessa Beeley noted, in eastern Ghouta, medical centres, “provided treatment almost exclusively to extremist armed factions.” They were also built underground, “linked by a vast maze of tunnels that snaked below most of the districts controlled by the armed groups, providing cover for the fighters during SAA [Syrian Arab Army] military campaigns.” (An aside, see one of these massive tunnels in Douma, at the location of the underground “hospital.”)

In Idlib, a “hospital” that the New York Times claimed Russian warplanes bombed in May 2019 was a cave used as a terrorist headquarters. Another fortified cave in Khan Sheikhoun was well-stocked with weapons, medical supplies and gas masks, and a prison with solitary confinement cells.

In areas liberated from terrorists, the Syrian Army routinely finds such caves, with tunnels connecting terrorist bases so they can avoid moving above ground.

In the past, Russia has provided satellite imagery when the question of a building allegedly being bombed arose. Until we have conclusive evidence either way, it is a question of he said, she said, although common sense (and the history of such lies) points to more media fabrications.

Hospitals bombed, media yawns

Since the media and pundits clearly care so much about Syrian hospitals being bombed, and even destroyed, it’s worth reviewing some of the major hospitals damaged or destroyed by terrorist factions.

However, unsurprisingly, not a lot of information is available. The following is a partial list, with me filling in details from attacked hospitals that I have gone to.

  • The September 2012 Free Syrian Army (FSA) bombing of and complete destruction of Al-Watani Hospital in Qusayr, Homs province. 
  • The September 2012 FSA bombing and complete destruction of two hospitals in Aleppo.
  • The December 2013 FSA & Al-Qaeda bombing and complete destruction of Aleppo’s Al-Kindi hospital, one of the largest and best cancer hospitals in the Middle East.
  • The April 2015 FSA bombing and siege of the National Hospital in Jisr al-Shughour, Idlib.
  • The May 2016 IS horrific multiple suicide bombings in Jableh (and also in Tartous the same day), including inside Jableh’s National Hospital.
  • The May 2016 attack outside Aleppo’s Dabeet maternity hospital, a missile hit a car parked outside, which then exploded, killing three women at the hospital and injuring many more. 

I went to Aleppo in July 2016 and spoke with the director, who confirmed his hospital was gutted in the blast, and noted that a week later terrorists’ mortars hit the roof of the hospital, destroying the roof and injuring construction workers.

In May 2018, before Daraa was fully liberated, I went to areas which were under fire from terrorists (including the day I went), and took a perilous high speed ride in the taxi I had hired in Damascus to the state hospital, down a road exposed to terrorist sniping from less than 100 metres away.

The hospital was battered and partially destroyed from terrorists’ mortars, and mostly empty of patients. The director showed me destroyed wards (dialysis and laboratory), and off-limits areas due to high risk of sniping (gynecology, operations, blood bank, nursing school, children’s hospital).

When I returned to Daraa in September, after the region was liberated, the hospital was full of patients, since it was finally possible to access without risk.

Behind the hospital, roughly 50 metres away, I saw a building when I was told had been occupied by terrorists. Hence the extreme risk of being sniped while inside the hospital.

I never saw any Western outlet speak of this hospital, although it serviced civilians and was quite visibly partially destroyed.

In November 2016, I met Dr. Ibrahim Hadid, former Director of Kindi Hospital, who said that he wanted medical colleagues and institutions to exert some of the concern they have for “hospitals” allegedly bombed in terrorist areas.

They, and Western corporate media, have done the opposite, of course.

Another chemical song and dance routine?

Meanwhile, Russia is warning of a possible new staged chemical provocation by Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib.

The Russian Center for Reconciliation says, “militants are plotting to stage a fake chemical attack near the settlement of Qitian,” to again accuse the Syrian government of using chemicals on the people.

As anyone following the war on Syria knows, although the West desperately wants to prove Syria committed one or more chemical attacks, it has failed, to the point where even OPCW experts spoke out, contradicting the claims.

As I wrote last week, in spite of incessantly lying about Syria for ten years, Western (and Gulf) media, pundits and politicians steam ahead with more lies – recycled accusations and war propaganda.

So, it is likely the “hospitals bombed” theme will surge anew, and then the “chemical attacks” theme. And then maybe we’ll have another new Bana al-Abed to ask Biden to bomb Syria or “holocaust” Idlib…

On and on it goes, ceaseless war propaganda.

The irony is of course, as I feel the need to make clear nearly every time I write, those script-readers claiming that Syria (and Russia) are bombing hospitals, or using chemicals, or whatever lie is next recycled, don’t actually care about the lives of Syrians. 

If they did, they would stop whitewashing terrorism in Syria, aid the country and its allies in liberating Idlib and the Aleppo countryside, stop pillaging its oil, leave Syria, and lift the sanctions.

RELATED:

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over

No attack, no victims, no chem weapons: Douma witnesses speak at OPCW briefing at The Hague

Organ theft, staged attacks: UN panel details White Helmets’ criminal activities, media yawns

In the Western Media Narrative, SAA-Targeted Underground Bunkers and Terrorist-Run Prisons Become “Hospitals”

Syria War Diary: What Life Is Like Under ‘Moderate’ ‘Rebel’ Rule

Israel violates international law anew, again bombing Syria…to further indifference of Western media

Liberate Syria’s Idlib, precisely for the civilians that America fakes concern over

US sanctions are part of a multi-front war on Syria, and its long-suffering civilians are the main target

It’s 10 years since the war in Syria began, and Western media & pundits are still eager to keep it going

ABOUT ME

Eva Bartlett is an independent writer and rights activist with extensive experience in Syria and in the Gaza Strip, where she lived a cumulative three years (from late 2008 to early 2013). She documented the 2008/9 and 2012 Israeli war crimes and attacks on Gaza while riding in ambulances and reporting from hospitals. In 2017, she was short-listed for the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The award rightly was given to the amazing journalist, the late Robert Parry [see his work on Consortium News]. In March 2017, she was awarded “International Journalism Award for International Reporting” granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951). Co-recipients included: John Pilger and political analyst Thierry Meyssan. She was also the first recipient of the Serena Shim award, an honour shared with many excellent journalists since. https://serenashimaward.org/laureates/ Since April 2014, she has visited Syria 14 times, the last time being from March to late September, 2020. All of her writings and videos on which can be found here: https://ingaza.wordpress.com/syria/syria-my-published-articles-from-and-on-syria-2014-2017/ and here: https://www.youtube.com/user/InGazaUpdates/videos A more detailed account of her activism and writings can be found here: https://ingaza.wordpress.com/about-me/ Her social media sites: https://linktr.ee/evakarenebartlett

سورية … روسيا تعلن التوصل إلى اتفاق مع تركيا حول إدلب وحلب

دام برس : دام برس | روسيا تعلن التوصل إلى اتفاق مع تركيا حول إدلب وحلب

مدارات عربية –

الأربعاء 24/3/2021 م …

أعلنت وزارة الدفاع الروسية عن توصلها إلى اتفاق مع الجانب التركي لإعادة فتح 3 معابر في منطقتي إدلب وحلب شمال سورية لتخفيف صعوبة الأوضاع الإنسانية في الأراضي الخاضعة لسيطرة تركيا.

وقال نائب مدير مركز حميميم لمصالحة الأطراف المتناحرة في سوريا والتابع لوزارة الدفاع الروسية، اللواء البحري ألكسندر كاربوف، خلال مؤتمر صحفي عقده الأربعاء، إنه “بهدف رفع حالة العزل وعمليا إزالة الحصار الداخلي للمدنيين، تم اتخاذ قرار لفتح” معبري سراقب وميزناز في منطقة إدلب لخفض التصعيد ومعبر أبو زيدين في منطقة مدينة حلب.

وأضاف كاربوف: “نعتقد أن هذا الإجراء يمثل عرضا مباشرا لالتزامنا بالتسوية السلمية للأزمة السورية على المجتمعين المحلي والدولي”.

وأوضح نائب مدير مركز حميميم أن هذه الخطوة ستسهم “في تحسين الأوضاع الاجتماعية وإزالة التوتر في المجتمع بسبب انقطاع الاتصالات العائلية وصعوبة الأحوال المعيشية”.

وتخضع مناطق واسعة شمال سوريا تطال محافظات إدلب وحلب والرقة والحسكة لسيطرة القوات التركية والتشكيلات المتحالفة معها نتيجة عمليات عسكرية شنتها تركيا منذ عام 2016، قالت إنها ضد تنظيم “داعش” و”وحدات حماية الشعب” الكردية وكذلك في إطار اتفاقات مع روسيا حول نظام وقف إطلاق النار.

وشهدت هذه الأراضي خلال الأسابيع الأخيرة احتجاجات للسكان المحلية على خلفية تدهور الأوضاع الإنسانية تم فضها من قبل التشكيلات الخاضعة لتركيا.

فيديوات ذات صلة

مقالات متعلقة

THE DAY IMPUNITY WAS PUNISHED IN IDLIB

South Front

The Turkish-backed militants in Greater Idlib, and in northeastern Syria in general are being given no quarter.

On March 21st, the Russian troops enforcing the ceasefire regime in Idlib carried out a rare strike – they launched what seemed to be a 9K720 Iskander missile and hit an unspecified target near the village of Salwah. The ballistic missile reportedly targeted the headquarters of the al-Sham Corps, one of the largest Turkish-backed factions.

Shortly thereafter, Su-35 and Su-34 warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out a series of airstrikes on the town of Saramada in northern Idlib that is located near the border with Turkey. They targeted a gas factory owned by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). A shipping office, owned by the terrorist group, was also targeted by Russian airstrikes. Dozens of trucks were damaged or destroyed. The town of Bsanqul in southern Idlib was also subject to an air raid.

The Russian strikes were almost certainly in response to a violation of the ceasefire agreement – a rocket attack was launched from Idlib and struck Aleppo city. Two civilians were killed and many others were injured. Property damage was also reported.

The Russian operation was one of the most severe since the ceasefire agreement was implemented. It is likely an attempt to deter the Turkish-backed factions, as well as HTS from carrying out any more expansive operations.

Still, Turkey is unlikely to give up on its interests, and on remaining in northeastern Syria. It has occupied parts of the Aleppo countryside, and almost the entirety of Afrin for more than three years.

The Turkish-backed factions are there to smuggle oil and gas, which is being provided by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Since, under Damascus’ pressure and as a result the Syrian Arab Army’s attacks that tap was shut off, Turkey and the factions it backs are left to fend for their own interests. As a result, on March 21st, the SDF clashed with militants near Hasaka, and several of its members were injured. One civilian was killed in the fire exchange between the two factions.

The Turkish factions also need their ranks refilled, and are now carrying out “mandatory recruitment” in Ras al-Ayn and its outskirts.

This is a clear signal that despite the significant efforts by the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian support, Ankara is nowhere near giving up on pursuing its goals, and is willing to go to great lengths to achieve them.

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U.S. AIRCRAFT CARRIER DEPLOYS IN MEDITERRANEAN AS DAMASCUS PREPARES TO PUSH ON THE NORTHWEST

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The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier and its Carrier Strike Group have entered the Mediterranean Sea.

This makes it, currently, the closest aircraft carrier to the Middle East. It has been quite a while since the US hasn’t had one of its super warships deployed in or near the Persian Gulf.

Starting in the spring of 2019, the U.S. Navy has been publicly ordered to keep a near-constant presence in the region, as if this were something new.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that a global posture review is taking place, and it would be reconsidered whether a carrier was even needed in the region. Still, the Mediterranean Sea is quite nearby, and the removal of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from the Persian Gulf was a political move.

It’s Lloyd Austin’s dream to have a CSG in every hotspot in the world, but resources don’t allow for that.

Still, the US has the amphibious warship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) in the Persian Gulf with a detachment of F-35B fighter jets, so it still has a hefty presence. Further, it is without a doubt possible for the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and its CSG to operate without issue in the Middle East, be it Syria, Iraq or elsewhere, from its current place of deployment.

In Syria itself, as the primary US competitor, alongside Iran, Russian forces are preparing to set up a permanent military base near the city of Palmyra in the Badia Desert. This is not yet confirmed, but according to satellite photos it has a helipad as a runway.

This base is likely planned to support the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) further in their push against both ISIS and Turkish proxies.

On March 9th, the SAA carried out heavy shelling on the positions of Turkish proxies in the village of Jabal Al-Zawiya, in southern Idlib.

Separately, Pro-Turkey opposition factions reportedly thwarted an attempt by the SAA to advance on the Qalaat front in the northern countryside of Latakia. Attacks are frequently repelled in Twitter posts, but nowhere else, demonstrating that the propaganda wing of the Turkish proxies is quite active.

In the days leading up to this, the SAA has been preparing for a large push in the province of Aleppo.

This is likely an attempt to form a uniform front, which can exert equal pressure along the frontline and thin the enemy’s forces to provide opportunity for a breach.

Turkey and its proxies are sure to offer heavy resistance to any advance by the SAA, but so far it appears that this may not be enough.

Has Damascus’ Time To Recapture Northern Syria Finally Arrived?

South Front

You can read this article in German. LINK

Chaos is brewing in the Aleppo countryside, as the Syrian Arab Army reportedly prepares for a decisive push on the Turkish-occupied areas.

All eyes are set on the town of Al-Bab and the surrounding area.

On March 7th, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelled the outskirts of the Turkish-occupied town of al-Bab. According to sources from the “moderate opposition”, at least ten mortar rounds fired by the SAA landed in the towns of Bratah and al-Dana near al-Bab.

There was one reported casualty, and one injury. The previous day saw shelling from the SAA on the same location, without any casualties and damage being reported.

These developments followed the incident on March 5 when, the Syrian military used ballistic missiles and rockets to pound Turkish-affiliated smugglers in the areas of al-Himran and Tarhin. According to reports, over 40 criminals were injured and more than 200 oil trucks and storage facilities were destroyed.

More than three years ago, the Turkish Armed Forces wrestled the city of al-Bab away from ISIS. Since then, the SAA has been waiting for an opportunity to liberate it from the successive occupations.

Nearby, in the northeastern part of Aleppo city itself, there appears to be a Turkish-funded insurgency rising.

On March 4th, saboteurs burned a minivan of the al-Quds Brigade in the district of Hannano. The al-Quds Brigade, made mostly of Palestinians, is one of the largest pro-government factions in Aleppo. The group Youth of Aleppo al-Shahba Regiment for Special Missions claimed responsibility for the attack. Their allegiance is formally unknown, but it is obvious.

It comes down to speculation, but pro-Turkish groups could have carried out the sabotage, in order to spread chaos and impede the SAA’s attack on the Turkish-occupied cities in the countryside.

Nearby, in Greater Idlib, the soon-to-be-rebranded Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) terrorists are attempting to merge with the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL).

This proposed military council is clearly meant to provide a legitimate cover for the rebranded terrorist activities of HTS and other al-Qaeda factions in Greater Idlib.

Sure enough, on March 6th, an infamous propagandist of HTS, Tahir al-Omar, confirmed that work was ongoing to establish a “Defense Ministry” in Greater Idlib. HTS, in the past, has attacked the NFL occasionally, despite the fact they’ve been allied. For the purposes of the “moderate opposition” and the rebranding of terrorists, those issues have been left in the past.

Greater Idlib is still the greatest source of the terrorist threat, and no amount of rebranding of terrorists can change that.

A sense of urgency should be growing with in HTS and the Turkish-proxies in Greater Idlib, as their turn is likely coming shortly after any operation to recapture the Turkish-occupied towns in the Aleppo countryside.

MYSTERIOUS AIRCRAFT POUND TURKISH OIL SMUGGLERS IN SYRIA. US SUPPLY CONVOYS ARE BLOWN UP IN IRAQ

South Front

The first month of 2021 was marked by a new round of violence in Syria. The situation was especially complicated in Greater Idlib, northern Aleppo and in the central desert.

On January 8, ISIS terrorists launched a large attack on government forces in the eastern countryside of Hama. After a series of clashes with the Syrian Army and pro-government militias, terrorists captured a number of positions near the towns of Rahjan and al-Shakusiyah. As of January 12, ISIS cells retreated from these positions under pressure from the army. Nonetheless, at least 19 government troops and 12 ISIS members were killed in the clashes.

Meanwhile in the eastern countryside of Homs, ISIS cells destroyed a pickup of the al-Quds Brigade, a Palestinian pro-government group, with an improvised explosive device. According to pro-opposition sources, at least 44 pro-government fighters have been killed in the clashes in the desert area since the start of the year. The number of the eliminated terrorists is reportedly over 35.

Sources affiliated with Russia-linked private military contractors claim that the deterioration of the security situation in western Deir Ezzor is a result of the withdrawal of a majority of Russian specialists from the area.

At the same time, Iranian-backed forces continue their work to expand the Imam Ali Base near al-Bukamal. The base, operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is allegedly designed store precision-guided missiles in a network of underground tunnels in the area. The base was repeatedly targeted by Israeli and even US strikes in 2019 and 2020. Despite this, the strikes did not cause any major impact as the base’s military infrastructure has been steadily expanding.

January 9 also became the first day of 2021 when the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out strikes on terrorist targets in Greater Idlib. Strikes hit several hills in outskirts of the town of Kabani, which is known for being stronghold of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Turkistan Islamic Party. A day earlier, forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham shelled Syrian Army positions in northern Lattakia injuring several soldiers.

These developments coincided with some strikes by some ‘mysterious aircraft’ that once again bombed Turkish-linked oil smugglers in northern Aleppo. This time the infrastructure of the smugglers was destroyed near the village of Tarhin.

The situation in neighboring Iraq is also not stable. Just on January 9, 3 supply convoys of the US-led coalition became targets of IED attacks in the central and southern regions of the country. These attacks are a logical continuation of the ongoing standoff between the US-Israeli bloc and the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance. Iranian-backed forces in Iraq conduct these attacks as a part of their campaign to force the US to withdraw its forces from the country.

While some expect that a Biden administration would be less interested in an increase of confrontation with Iran, there are no indications that the sides can fully settle their contradictions in any way in the nearest future. Therefore, the entire region will remain a battleground for the warring blocs.

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Lebanon Stole at Least US 21 Billion Dollars from Syrian Depositors – President Assad

November 5, 2020 Arabi Souri

President Bashar Assad and First Lady Asmaa Assad visited an exhibition in Damascus dedicated to Aleppan industrialists, during his visit President Assad exposed a grand theft of Syrian money by Lebanon.

Syria First Couple visit Aleppo industries exhibition in Damascus


“At the minimum, the estimates at the lowest were 20 billion dollars, and at the maximum, it was 42 billion dollars. We do not have a real figure,” President Assad told the crowd that surrounded the first couple, he added: “This number for an economy like Syria is a frightening number.”

President Assad did not belittle the US and EU blockade coupled with the blockade of their followers around the world against the Syrian people, he drew the timeline of the current crisis with the main factors of the war of terror and war of attrition waged on the country by NATO and stooges which the country is going through for nearly a decade; the Syrian President emphasized on the coinciding of the beginning of the current severe crisis, ‘that Syria never lived through since it independence – in 1945’, with the blocking of depositors accounts by the Lebanese Central Bank starting a year ago.

The following is the English translation transcript of the above video:

First of all thanks to you, were it not for your steadfastness in Aleppo, and if it were not for you decided from the beginning to be positive, effective and have a challenge, which any person needs to succeed, especially in these circumstances, had it not been for all of this, we would not have reached this successful beginning.

When we meet with producers in these special circumstances, difficult circumstances, and harsh conditions that Syria has not lived through since the days of independence, this carries a special message and full of meanings.

3 and 4 years ago, Aleppo was besieged from all sides and the bombing on it did not stop and its production did not stop, so the issue is not the subject of a siege, so if a siege on Aleppo could not affect, the siege on Syria, which is not more severe than the siege on Aleppo, would not be the cause of the problem that we are going through. With it, there are issues that we are affected by, such as the issue of (the United States’ theft of oil), the issue of wheat supplies, the burning of wheat in the northeastern regions, there is no doubt that all of this has an impact, but the economic problem has another reason that no one is talking about, and that is the money that the Syrians withdrew (from Syria) and deposited in Lebanon, and the banks in Lebanon were closed, so we paid the price, this is the essence of the problem that nobody is talking about.

It is easy to always blame the state and the government, mistakes exist with every one and this is another issue, but the current crisis is not related to the blockade, the blockade has been imposed on us for years, this does not mean that the siege is good and the Americans are innocent, no, the blockade directly harms all aspects of life, but the current crisis that started several months ago, caused by this issue (the closure of banks in Lebanon) because the crisis began before the Caesar Act and began years after the blockade, so what coincided with it? It is the money that’s gone.

At the minimum, the estimates at the lowest were 20 billion dollars, and at the maximum, it was 42 billion dollars. We do not have a real figure. This number for an economy like Syria is a frightening number.

End of the transcript.

President Bashar Assad and First Lady - Damascus Exhibition
President Assad accused Lebanon of stealing 20 billion from Syrians

This is not the first time Lebanon worked efficiently as a pawn in the US-led war of terror against Syria, it was a stage where the killing of its former PM Rafic Hariri led to a fruitless international tribunal that lasted for 15 years and cost the Lebanese people about a billion dollars to reach nothing, in the course of its trials it started by a false accusation against the Syrian state for killing the former Lebanese PM which led to the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005, the accusations were dropped after they exhausted their political and economic purpose.

During the current episode of the US-led war of terror on Syria, Lebanon through a number of its pro-Saudi officials was instrumental in smuggling weaponsterrorists, and drugs to contribute to the war against the Syrian people.

This latest theft of the Syrian depositors in the Lebanese banking system upon the US instructions in the last quarter of last year was meant to break the will of the Syrian people to give up to the USA of their sovereignty and freedom what they refused to give to the US-sponsored terrorist groups including Al Qaeda and its offshoots Nusra Front and ISIS for almost a decade.

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Israel Bombs with Missiles the Outskirts of Aleppo 11 September 2020

September 11, 2020 Arabi Souri

Syrian Army air defense repel incoming Israel missiles in the outskirts of Aleppo

A new missile bombing by Israel against the outskirts of Aleppo province this dawn was reported by the official Syrian News Agency SANA.

The agency quoted a Syrian military source: ‘At 1:30 in the morning, the Zionist enemy launched air aggression around Aleppo with bursts of missiles.’

The military source added: ‘Our air defense means responded to the aggression and dropped most of the enemy missiles.’, as per SANA.

Israel bombs the outskirts of Aleppo 11 September 2020

There is not much information about this latest Israeli aggression as of the time of writing this report, however, a recent escalation against the states not under the US hegemony, partially or completely, is being carried out by the NATO camp, escalations as this military bombing, two similar bombings in the past month alone, increased hostility against the Palestinians who are refusing to give their homes away to foreign European imported Zionist settlers, fires and explosions in Lebanon, Iraq, and even Jordan, which is a 100% British protectorate but still a considerable portion of its population are patriotic, and the ever-increasing sanctions.

Syria’s wildfires burning large swathes of Syria’s breathing lung the al Ghab Forests are seen as not innocent at all, in their numbers, areas targeted, and timing, as if the USA is continuing to suffocate the Syrian people out of their last breathes or push millions more into refugee camps.

Both embattled Netanyahu in ‘Israel’ and Trump in the Untied States need any success to grasp upon abroad by all means of intimidation, war crimes, or direct military intervention like the one early this morning on Aleppo, they need to cover their failures, both of them, on all policies they followed especially domestically and in the wake of the COVID 19 consequences by ways of diverting attention by the usual method: a military adventure abroad. Erdogan, the Turkish madman, is in the same boat along with the Saudis who are failing miserably in their criminal war against Yemen.

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Syrian Air Defenses Destroy ‘Israeli’ Missiles Over Aleppo

Syrian Air Defenses Destroy ‘Israeli’ Missiles Over Aleppo

By Staff, Agencies

Syrian air defenses thwarted a new ‘Israeli’ act of aggression against the war-ravaged Arab country, shooting down a number of hostile missiles in the skies over the strategic northwestern province of Aleppo.

Syria’s state-run television, citing a military statement, reported that the ‘Israeli’ aircraft fired several missiles at areas in the vicinity of Aleppo at 1:30 a.m. local time on Friday, but most of the projectiles were intercepted and destroyed before hitting any of their targets.

The statement said that the attack targeted al-Safirah town, located 25 kilometers east of Aleppo city.

Late on September 2, Syrian air defense systems engaged hostile targets near the Tiyas Military Airbase, also known as the T-4 Airbase, in the country’s central province of Homs.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported at the time that Zionist warplanes fired missiles from the direction of al-Tanf region in southeastern Syria.

The report, quoting an unnamed Syrian military source, added that most of the missiles were shot down and the rest caused only material damage.

The development came only two days after two Syrian soldiers were martyred and seven others sustained injuries in an ‘Israeli’ missile attack against military sites in southern Damascus.

The assault was reported to have been launched from the occupied Golan Heights.

The Zionist entity frequently attacks military positions inside Syria.

The Tel Aviv regime mostly keeps quiet about the attacks on Syrian territories which many view as knee-jerk reaction to Syrian government’s increasing success in confronting terrorism.

HAY’AT TAHRIR AL-SHAM ACKNOWLEDGED DEFEAT IN GREATER IDLIB BATTLE IN NEW VIDEO RELEASE

Source

05.08.2020 

Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) acknowledged its defeat in the last battle in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib in a new video release.

The video, titled Wa Tuhadithu Akhbaraha [Telling Its Stories], documents the battle from HTS’ point of view. The video was released by the group’s media agency, Amjad, on August 3.

In the documentary, HTS explains how its terrorists attempted to stop the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) attack on Greater Idlib in 2019 using an array of tactics.

The group built its entire strategy around a single principle, “the best defense is a good offense.” Under this strategy the group’s terrorists launched a series of counter-attacks and raids at the beginning of the battle.

While this tactic granted HTS some limited, temporary success in the battlefield, it failed to stop the SAA. In the first phase of the battle, the army managed to secure vast areas in northern Hama and southern Idlib, including the town of Khan Shaykhun.

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release
Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release
Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release
Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release

As the army began advancing on the Damascus-Aleppo highway, the M5, in early 2020, HTS started to rely on more radical tactics.

The group launched large-scale attacks on other fronts, mainly Aleppo, to distract the army. The group also carried out more suicide attacks with booby-trapped vehicles and well-trained fighters who were left behind as sleeper cells.

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release
Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release
Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release

Despite these efforts, HTS failed and sustained heavy losses. The army managed to reopen and secure the M5 highway by March of 2020.

HTS’ commander tried to justify their defeat with the heavy fire power of the SAA and the support of its allies, Russia and Iran. The group ignored the vast support it received from Turkey, which inflicted heavy losses on the Syrian Army.

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release

The documentary featured Abu Mohamad al-Julani, the leader of HTS, who acknowledged that the group was defeated and attempted to reflect this as an “achievement.”

“The battle has not ended yet, yes, we lost a round in the last eleven months, but the battle is not over and we should stay determined,” al-Julani said, adding “Even if we were left with a single inch of this land.”

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham Acknowledged Defeat In Greater Idlib Battle In New Video Release

In the documentary the group also acknowledged the loss of some its top military commanders, like Abu Ubaidah Kansafra, Saif al-Rahman al-Uzbaki, al-Mu’tasim bi’llah al-Madani, Mansour al-Daghistani, Abu Suleiman al-Hamwi and Abu Jihad al-Shafei al-Ansari.

The documentary was released by HTS following reports of an upcoming attack by the SAA on Greater Idlib. The army is already amassing troops around the region.

By releasing this documentary, HTS is not only trying to justify its defeat but also to amass public support for a new battle with the SAA. The full elimination of the terrorist group is among the top goals of the army and its allies.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

FIRST EVER FULL TURKISH-RUSSIAN PATROL ON M4 HIGHWAY IN SYRIA’S GREATER IDLIB COMPLETED (VIDEO)

South Front

On July 22, the Russian Military Police and the Turkish military completed their first ever full joint patrol on the M4 highway in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.

The joint patrol set off from the government-held town of Tronba in southern Idlib. The patrol passed through the entire opposition-held section of the M4. In the end, Russian forces reached the government-held town of Ain Hawr in northern Lattakia, while Turkish forces headed back to Greater Idlib.

Video

This was the 22nd joint Russian-Turkish patrol on the M4 and the first to pass through the entire opposition-held section of the M4 highway. The patrol didn’t encounter any problem.

Turkey committed to secure the M4 under the agreement with Russia signed on March 5. The highway links the port city of Lattakia with Aleppo city, Syria’s industrial hub.

suicide bombing targeted the 21th patrol more than a week ago. Three Russian service members were injured in the attack. Russian and Syrian forces responded with a series of airstrikes and intense shelling.

By securing the M4 highway, Turkey has fulfilled a part of its commitments. Under the agreement with Russia, Ankara is also obliged to neutralize the remaining terrorist groups in Greater Idlib, including Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. Turkish forces are yet to take any action to achieve this goal.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

Hay’at Tahrir Violates Agreement With Fa Ithbatu, Launches Large Attack In Western Idlib

Source

Hay’at Tahrir Violates Agreement With Fa Ithbatu, Launches Large Attack In Western Idlib
Illustrative image

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has violated its recent agreement with the Fa Ithbatu Operations Room by launching a large attack on its factions in western Aleppo.

Under the initial agreement, which was reached early on June 25, both sides agreed to suspend their movements in western Idlib to de-escalate the situation.

According to opposition sources, HTS has violated the agreement by launching an attack on Horas al-Din and Ansar al-Din in the afternoon. The attack targeted some positions and checkpoints of the two groups in the towns of al-Yacubiyeh and al-Janoudiyah.

The sources also reported that heavy clashes are now taking place around the town of Arab Said, a stronghold of Fa Ithabtu.

Before launching its new attack, HTS accused Horas al-Din and Ansar al-Din of looting, claiming that they didn’t take part in the recent battle against the Syrian Arab Army.

“They [Horas al-Din and Ansar al-Din] didn’t witness a war, or keep security [in Greater Idlib],” the statement reads.

HTS claimed in the statement that it is ready for a ceasefire and an agreement with Horas al-Din and Ansar al-Din. However, only if the two groups meet its demands, which include the removal of all the newly-established checkpoints in Idlib.

The conflict between HTS and the Fa Ithbatu Operations Room will likely escalate further in the upcoming few days as both sides appear to be determined to continue their struggle.

Military Situation In Syria On June 25, 2020 (Map Update)

Military Situation In Syria On June 25, 2020 (Map Update)

A brief overview of the recent developments in Syria:

  • Several people were injured as a result of two explosions near the city of Manbij;
  • Turkish-led forces bombarded the village of Umm al Kayf near Tel Tamr with several mortar rounds;
  • 3 SDF members were killed by a roadside bomb near Raqqa;
  • An incident involving the Russian Military Police and US forces took place in northern al-Hasakah;
  • The Russian Special Firces attacked a position of Turkish-backed Suqur al-Sham in the outskirt of the town of Benin;
  • The Israeli strikes targeted Salamyieh and al-Sabboura in the province of Hama. 2 soldiers were killed, 4 others were injured.

Militant Infighting In Idlib And Kurdish-Turkish Tensions In Afrin (Map Update)

Militant Infighting In Idlib And Kurdish-Turkish Tensions In Afrin (Map Update)

A brief overview of the recent developments in Syria:

  • Turkish-backed forces shelled the village of Babilla in Maarrat al-Nu’man District;
  • Horas al-Din acknowledged the death of its commander Khalid al-Aruri as a result of the US R9X drone strike on June 14;
  • Fa Ithbatu took control of a security checkpoint of HTS in the village of Al-Yaqoubiya, north of Jisr al-Shughour;
  • Clashes between HTS and Fa Ithbatu continue west of Idlib’s city center and in the village of Arab Said;
  • Two people were killed and 3 wounded as a result of a motorcycle explosion in Afrin;
  • Turkish Armed Forces artillery targeted YPG positions near the Menagh airbase and in Malikiyah, Shawargat Ar, Al-Kamiya villages;
  • HTS’ security forces raided the main headquarters of Ansar al-Din in the town of Saramada in northern Idlib ;
  • Abu Adnan al-Homsi, commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din was killed in a drone strike on Greater Idlib.

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

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

See Video here


Source

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.

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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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