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Current situation in Idlib

09.12.2019 — 11:49

Current situation in Idlib is peculiar. There was a crisis of civil administration in November, created by terrorists from «Hayat Tahrir al-Sham» («Jebhat al-Nusra»*).

«Salvation Government» has resigned. This happened against the backdrop of massive public protests against a two per cent olive harvest fee in favour of Idlib Military Council, which is chaired personally by HTS leader Abu Muhammad al-Julani.

The rallies were held along the perimeter of Idlib: Kafr Takharim, Ariha, Salqin, Maareth al-Nuuman, etc. HTS commanders would like to solve issues with population by means of machine guns, but it didn’t work that way.

As it turned out, the rallies, which received good media coverage through Syrian opposition channel, were planned in advance. Factories and journalists were not afraid to organize and cover the protests, although back in spring they could have been shot or taken away in an unknown direction with broken legs. The reason is general weakening of HTS position due to Turkey’s actions.

The Turks have been longing to take direct control of the Idlib zone through interacting structures such as «Muslim Brotherhood» for a long time. However, they did not have the strength to do so.

The relevant groups were in the Idlib zone in minority, moreover they received funding not from Turkey, but from Arabian Gulf countries and from Europe.

A variety of Salafis/Wahhabis looked more in the direction of «Hayat Tahrir ash-Sham» aka «Al-Qaeda». All of them left for HTS wing in 2018, before Turkish posts around Idlib zone perimeter were established. HTS showed the Turks all kinds of cooperation, but in general, many of «Nusra» groups and field commanders initially had close relations with the Turkish intelligence services. But it wasn’t Abu Muhammad al-Julani, leader of the entire organization, who was once dragged out of an American prison in Iraq by British intelligence.

Huge streams of various deliveries to Idlib go through territory of Turkey, but many of them Turkish authorities simply pass through their country, cooperating with the main customers — the British commonwealth, CIA, Europe and Arabian peninsula funds. 

The «revision of contracts» has began only now, when the Turkish leadership gained necessary funds and certain disposition in geopolitics has changed.

The Turks created Syrian National Army (SNA) from fragments of «Free Syrian Army» and jihadists of various calibers and injected into it the previously formed «Idlib National Liberation Front» (FNL) coalition.

These guys receive artillery and MLRS, armoured vehicles and AT guided weapons. Those HTS militants, whom the Turks trust, can also use this stuff, but unofficially. 

Pro-Turkish forces and HTS are working formally together but in fact separately against the Syrian army. Ankara and its foreign partners have now shut down former financing and business schemes for HTS and its foreign partners through Turkey. 

Julani is increasingly dependent on Turks’ goodwill. With his help they have already taken over education, medicine and trade in Idlib, and now — «the Moor has done his duty, let him go», the Turks have already got someone to replace him and it is time for population to protest more actively against «Nusra» dictatorship.

An important signal was the speech of one of the HTS field commanders Abu Shidda in September. He criticized the corrupt leadership and called for dissolution of the organisation, which many militants have allegedly stopped supporting. Idlib, they say, faces anarchy if HTS is left at the helm.

After such speeches Abu Shidda has disappeared somewhere but his idea lives and wins. A significant part of the units, though not out of subordination to the command, but in fact already performs direct commands of the Turks.

The positions of SNA created by the Turks have significantly strengthened. And the interim administration created in the place of the departed «Salvation Government» is supervised by «Faylak al-Sham» commander Abu Qadda. This formation, on the one hand, is known for its ties to «Muslim Brotherhood» and is part of SLA/FNL, while on the other hand, it has long been friends with HTS and has taken a generally neutral stance during Nusra’s conflicts with other Idlib groups in the past.

Apparently, everything goes to the establishment of the so-called Interim Government in Idlib, which the Turks organized in the occupied territories in northern Syria and subordinated it to SNA.

Turks-controlled structures have two main tasks: 1 — to create a stronghold for the opposition under the protection of Turkish bayonets during work of the Constitutional Committee, which can be dragged in this way for as long as it is necessary to maintain its military presence, 2 — to gain control over «security zone» along the Turkish borders, where the Turks are going to throw out two million Syrian refugees from their territory (and can be taken away from Europe by agreement — this was also discussed at the meeting of Erdogan with European leaders at the NATO summit after Tramp’s departure) 

So the time is slipping away for HTS, which was not directly under the control of the Turks and was darkened by the image of «al-Qaeda» branch».

But the process is running not without incidents. In the north of Idlib zone, near the Turkish border, some drones, for whose actions no one wants to take responsibility, regularly liquidate representatives of the shadow business, which should leave together with HTS. 

Accidentally or not, one of the blows hit a residential building in El-Kah refugee camp. The «White Helmets» and opposition media working on the order reported that it was a strike by Syrian government troops. 

The topic was also covered by the Western mainstream media and UN officials. 

But the audience had questions about how the tent on the raw bricks of a dozen square meters could be hit so hard and so precisely without affecting two similar constructions standing in the back of the destroyed building. «White Helmets» found nothing better than to show a piece of Soviet operational-tactical missile like «Tochka-U». Although it is clear to any competent person that if there was a strike, it was only with the UAV (drone aircraft).

There was also an ugly story with the long-suffering Al-Hal market in Maaret An-Nuuman.

Last summer, the British-based «Syrian Observatory for Human Rights» reported that this market was allegedly destroyed by Russian aviation. On 30th of July, Colonel General Rudskoy, the head of the Main Operational Directorate of Russian General Staff, at his briefing to media presented photos and video evidence of the market’s absolute integrity, moreover it is functioning. 

However, in November this food market got unlucky again — it was «destroyed» once more. 

But this time the photos were published. The only thing that was captured in these photos was the consequences of the explosion of an explosive device produced by HTS security service in order to sellers to senses who decided that Nusra tax may not be paid anymore. 

They hurried — the transition period from the dictatorship of the HTS to Islamist democracy in Idlib is not over yet. For some reason, the Syrian authorities and Russia were accused again…

* A terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation.

Tags: Al-QaedaIdlibIslamistsNATORussiaRussian Air ForceSyriaSyrian ArmyTurkeyWar In Syria

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