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Syrian jihadi teams crack down on rivals in Idlib

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, has not too long ago labored to draw jihadi teams appearing exterior the boundaries of its authority by inserting stress on them and providing them as few as two choices: both be part of the group and act beneath its authority or dissolve themselves and depart Idlib.

Observers consider HTS desires to do away with such teams to keep away from jihadis and Salafists from regrouping and rebranding. Additionally, these observers consider HTS, by means of these strikes, seeks to convey messages to the worldwide neighborhood whereby it renounces terrorism, is combating militants and is an area Syrian element.

Sources from inside HTS advised Al-Monitor the group is set to dissolve all teams working independently, because it desires to maneuver towards establishing a correct state with correct establishments.

The identical sources stated the presence of jihadi teams that function individually prevents HTS’ efforts to show Idlib right into a quasi-state with its personal method and establishments, and that is what HTS desires to attain in northwest Syria.

On this regard, sources conversant in jihadi affairs advised Al-Monitor HTS has requested the Jundallah group to hitch it or dissolve itself and hand over its weapons. HTS gave the group a brief time period to decide and select one of many two choices.

The proprietor of the well-known @MzmjerSh Twitter account of a former jihadi chief from Syria said in a submit on July 8 that after the dissolution of the Chechen Jund al-Sham (Troopers of the Levant) group, the remaining jihadi teams that had been appearing exterior HTS’ authority in Idlib had been Ansar al-Islam and Jundallah.

The chief stated, “HTS has not too long ago tried to watch the places of Jundallah on the coast in preparation for a army marketing campaign in opposition to it.”

“As for the remainder of the teams, comparable to Ansar al-Tawhid, the Turkestan [Islamic Party], Ajnad al-Kavkaz and Uzbek teams, they continue to be loyal to HTS and function beneath its supervision. [Al-Qaeda-affiliated] Hurras al-Din (Guardians of Faith Group), in the meantime, is dissolved, even when no official assertion has been issued to this impact,” the chief added.

In current days, HTS dissolved Jund al-Sham and demanded its chief, Muslim al-Shishani, depart Syria.

Jundallah is a jihadi group based by Abu Fatima al-Turki and at the moment led by Abu Hanifa al-Adhari. It’s stationed within the Jabal al-Turkman space, east of Latakia province. It’s a small group believed to incorporate not more than 40 members.

Requested in regards to the restrictions on Jundallah, the top of media relations in HTS, Taqi al-Din Omar, advised the Syrian information website Zaman al-Wasl on June 29, “It has been confirmed that some members of Jundallah had been concerned in safety and legal circumstances, and their leaders had been requested to cooperate (by HTS) in an effort to arrest them and maintain them accountable. Nonetheless, the matter was not met with accountability, and rumor has it that the group was expelled from Idlib.”

Omar added, “The safety companies within the liberated areas have managed to ascertain safety and struggle every kind of crime. Some criminals and wished people have determined to make use of the names of small teams to cowl up their crimes, which could have unfavourable penalties and won’t be allowed by the authorities at the moment controlling the liberated north.”

Khalil Miqdad, a Qatar-based researcher specializing in jihadi teams, advised Al-Monitor, “HTS is set to finish the presence of jihadi teams in Idlib. It desires to win over Turkey and america, and it additionally desires to impose its presence as a power that has the higher hand in Idlib. And it might be in search of to ascertain its personal protection ministry affiliated with the Salvation Authorities that it runs. The mission of that ministry could be to remodel HTS from a former jihadi faction right into a nationwide group.”

He added, “These jihadi teams are left with few choices, as they’re pressured to both dissolve themselves or be part of HTS. In any other case, HTS might be resorting to power. If these teams depart Idlib towards the areas beneath the management of Turkish-backed factions, they are going to be pursued and arrested by these factions. Some members of the jihadi teams that HTS has been reining in might be part of the Islamic State (IS) in an effort to defend themselves, however the street from Idlib to the Badia (Syrian desert) the place IS is stationed is lengthy and troublesome.”

Miqdad additional identified that by combating these teams, HTS seeks to do away with them and present itself as an area, nationwide faction and political social gathering.

On this context, Abu Muslim al-Uzbek, a jihadi chief near the Jundallah group residing within the Latakia countryside, advised Al-Monitor, “HTS requested Jundallah to both be part of the group or depart its positions and dissolve itself, however to this point it has not taken any steps in opposition to the group. Jundallah remains to be stationed in its positions, however HTS will neither depart jihadi nor non-jihadi factions exterior its authority and administration, because it desires to deliver collectively all of those factions and change its method by power in an effort to show to the worldwide neighborhood that HTS is an open and average group. These jihadi teams [that HTS is going after] are internationally considered as ‘terrorist’ teams, and when HTS tightens the noose round their neck and disbands them, this infers that HTS is combating terrorism, and that is what the group desires to painting itself as doing.”

Uzbek added, “Jundallah is a peaceable group that solely fights the regime, that doesn’t intrude in Idlib politics and that doesn’t have interaction within the affairs of the local people. This group doesn’t pose any risk to HTS, nor does it compete with it, and these teams don’t threaten the West, nor do they perform operations exterior Syria. Their No. 1 enemy is the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies.”

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