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Several attacks against “Sham Legion” faction in Idlib… are they casual or serving invisible agenda?

Members of the Sham legion faction in the battles of Afrin area - 23 February 2018 (Sham Legion)

Members of the Sham legion faction in the battles of Afrin area - 23 February 2018 (Sham Legion)

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Enab Baladi – Yousef Ghuraibi

The “National Liberation Front” (NLF), an opposition alliance affiliated to the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA),  has been subjected to several separate attacks. The “Sham Legion” faction, which belongs to the NLF, has had the biggest share of these attacks, which no one has claimed responsibility for to date.

These attacks coincided with the accelerating developments in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province in recent days;  the passage of the Turkish-Russian joint patrols for longer distances along the Aleppo-Lattakia international highway (M4), which was met with sit-ins to prevent their passage.

The objective of the attacks is still unclear; it remains to be seen whether they are part of a systematic plan intended to deliver certain messages or “pure harm,” the spokesman of the “legion,” Saif Raad, told Enab Baladi.

Unidentified perpetrators and security investigation

In the past two weeks, Enab Baladi monitored several attacks against the Sham legion faction, including an assassination attempt for commander al-Hajj Taleb Khatib, after firing directly at him, leaving him with a minor injury in Taftanaz city in rural Idlib.

The same city experienced a similar attack that targeted the legion’s headquarter, wounding two people.

Moreover, a group of unidentified individuals attacked a member of the legion and stole his “Mitsubishi Pickup truck” near al-Nayrab town in eastern rural Idlib.

They also stole a van from the legion’s positioning point near Kafr Nabl city.

In addition, the legion’s artillery headquarters, west of Kafrya and al-Foua towns, was also attacked. Back then, vehicles, weapons, and mobile phones were stolen before the attackers tied the legion’s members and fled the scene.

The legion affiliated brigade “Commandos of the Mountain” was as well attacked by unidentified gunmen who shot fire at the brigade’s headquarter in Marbaleet near Ariha, southern Idlib.

Besides, two vehicles were stolen from the two factions “the Sham Falcons Brigade” and “Idlib’s Free Army.”

Moreover, the “Ahrar al-Sham” faction was not spared from the attacks, as its headquarter on the outskirts of al-Foua was under an unsuccessful attack.

The Sham legion’s spokesman, Raad, pointed out to Enab Baladi that “an aggressive gang of looters has been active in the region” over the past days.

Raad indicated that more than eight offensives targeted the NLF, mostly against the Sham Legion. Three of these attacks resulted in the looting of vehicles, an individual weapon, a leader’s assassination attempt, and an attack on an artillery headquarter.

According to Raad, two incidents were for the purpose of ” pure harm” only, by shooting the target and then fleeing, along with four unsuccessful offensives in which attackers were caught before they could escape within the area.

Raad added that all assaults were centered in al-Foua and al-Sowaghiyah region on the outskirts of al-Foua, Kafrya, Taftanaz, and al-Nayrab and its surroundings. He also mentioned that there were no killing cases to date.

Regarding who stands behind these attacks, Raad refrained from pointing fingers to any party, noting that the NLF is following the case.

Meanwhile, the NLF’s spokesperson, Sergeant Naji Mustafa, simply stated to Enab Baladi that “the subject matter has been transferred to a security investigation, and there is no statement about it.”

It is worth mentioning that the Sham Legion backs up the Turkish forces’ movements in Idlib, and belongs to the NLF. It also took a somehow neutral role in most of the inner-fighting between Hay’ at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the rest of the opposition factions in Idlib.

 

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