Wed 12 Dec 2018

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The “Jihadist” Formations Take Action in Idlib’s Buffer Zone

Troops of “Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham” on the fronts of the Kurd Mountains, rural Lattakia – July 2018 (Ebaa Agency)

Troops of “Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham” on the fronts of the Kurd Mountains, rural Lattakia – July 2018 (Ebaa Agency)

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The demilitarized zone in Idlib, agreed upon by Turkey and Russia, failed to materialize, for the attacks exchanged by the Syrian regime and the opposition there never stopped and only accelerated since the beginning of November, accompanied by rocket and artillery shelling on the part of the Assad’s forces, causing the death of a number of civilians.

The attacks put the “Sochi” deal on the line, as it is at the verge of collapse without Russian or Turkish action, whose official statements are entirely lacking concerning the deal’s latest developments and the extent of commitment to the terms agreed upon.

What has been striking in the past a few days is the massive action undertaken by the “Jihadist” formations, which declared their refusal of the “Sochi” deal of the buffer zone, as they adopted several attacks against Assad’s forces posts, the last of which targeted the village of Sirmaniyah, western rural Hama, which was preceded by another on the Turkmen Mountain, northern rural Lattakia.

The formations have all constituted the “And Exhort the Believers” operation room, the foundation of which was announced on October 15th, 2018. The first of this room’s operations was targeting an Assad’s forces post at the Jurin camp, launched from its positions at the demilitarized area, agreed as to have a width of 20 kilometers.

The formations are the “Guardians of Religion Organization”, “Ansar al-Din Front”, “Ansar al-Din Front” and “Ansar al-Tawhid,” which dissented from the “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS) throughout the past two years and are accused of affiliation with “al-Qaeda” organization.

Provocations by the Syrian Regime

Despite the attacks undertaken by the “jihadist” formation on the Assad’s forces’ positions from the demilitarized area, they are not to be completely blamed for the violations because Assad’s forces are the ones who first initiated the attacks, the most sever of which was an attack that targeted a position of the “Jaysh al-Izza” (Army of Glory) in northern rural Hama, which ended with the death of more than 20 of the faction’s troops.

In addition to this, the rocket and artillery shelling did not stop targeting the rural parts of Hama and Idlib, launched from the Assad’s forces military camps in rural Hama, including the ones in Maan and Halfaya in the northern countryside.

In a former interview, a source from the “free Army” said that the joint attacks made by the Syrian regime, Iran and the Lebanese party of “Hezbollah” aimed at coercing the opposition to have a similar attitude, as to say that the opposition is seeking to breach the “Sochi” deal.

The source added that despite all its negative sides, the “Sochi” deal was an opportunity and time out for the opposition to rearrange its political and military cards, pointing out that “the deal’s failure will end with positive results for the opposition, which utilized the past days of calm to form a single unified military body, which is the National Front for Liberation.”

According to the source, the collapse of the deal is not in the interest of the Syrian regime because the elimination of the deal at the current stage “will lead to a battle and the retreat of the regime as it is unable to defend the northern rural Hama and western rural Idlib.”

 “Tahrir al-Sham” Applauds the Attacks

Among the attacks witnessed by the demilitarized area is the operation declared by “Tahrir al-Sham” in the area of al-Tarabie, northern rural Hama, saying that it killed Russian and Assad’s forces’ troops, as a response to the attack that targeted the positions of the “Jaysh al-Izza.”

Following the attacks, launched by the “jihadist” formations against Assad’s forces’ positions, a number of sharia advisors of the “Tahrir al-Sham” applauded the step, including “Abu Malik al-Tali”, “Abu al-Fath al-Ferghali” and “Abu Yaqthan al-Masri,” considered as a part of the hardliner party under the “Tahrir al-Sham,” which expressed its disapproval of the  demilitarized zone deal in Idlib.

They have also organized an honorary celebration for the troops of the “Red Bands” special forces, which implement the attack in northern rural Hama that resulted in the death of Russian troops.

On October 27th, the “tahrir al-sham” announced military maneuvers in the southern rural parts of Idlib, as a unique step after its indirect approval of the deal.

Back then, the “Tahrir al-Sham” has posted footage onto its official platforms of the maneuvers undertaken by its affiliate “al-Nukhba Forces” (The Elite Forces), which used various heavy and light weapons, in addition to sniper rifles.

“Tahrir al-Sham” did not mention the location where the maneuvers were made, providing no details about whether they took place at the demilitarized zone or outside it, deep in Idlib.

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