On Wednesday, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham forced the Ahrar al-Sham movement to dissolve itself and to hand over its heavy arms in the al-Ghab Plain and Jabel Shahsheo areas in the Hama countryside, a day after fighting and mobilizations by the two sides.
This comes as part of an agreement reached after Tahrir al-Sham waged an attack against Ahrar al-Sham and Saquor al-Sham on Tuesday, during which it was able to take control of a number of villages and towns in the Idleb and Hama countrysides. However, northern Syria witnessed a cautious calm after the deal.
Alsouria Net obtained a copy of the deal, which included seven points:
- Ahrar al-Sham dissolves itself in the al-Ghab Plain and Jabel Shahsheo areas.
- The area is under the authority of the Salvation Government administratively and in terms of services.
- Military operations and mobilization in the area are overseen by Tahrir al-Sham.
- Ahrar al-Sham’s heavy and medium weapons are handed over, with individual arms remaining.
- Those who wish to remain in the area can remain, while those who want to leave to the Olive Branch areas will leave with coordination by Tahrir al-Sham.
- All bases (al-Shimali and al-Shaer) remain with those responsible for garrisoning.
- Tahrir al-Sham guarantees it will not pursue any people participating in the fighting which occurred in the Jabel Shahsheo and al-Ghab Plain area.
Idleb province and the Hama countryside today witnessed a tense calm after the agreement was reached, unlike yesterday when confrontations broke out between Tahrir al-Sham and the National Liberation Front groups, which were scattered across the southern Idleb countryside and the al-Ghab Plain area in the Hama countryside and Jabel Shahsheo.
Tahrir al-Sham was able to take control over the villages and towns of Kawkba, Rasha, al-Zinkar, Tarmala, Sfuhen, al-Naqir, and Areenbeh in the Idleb countryside, as well as villages and towns of al-Daqmaq, al-Zaqoum, Qalidein, al-Qahireh, al-Ankawi, and al-Amqiyeh on the al-Ghab Plain. These areas were considered under the influence of Ahrar al-Sham with deployments by Saqour al-Sham and other groups such as Jaish al-Nasr.
Nothing remains under the control of Ahrar al-Sham and Saqour al-Sham, which Tahrir al-Sham is trying to put an end to, except the two main cities, which are Maarat al-Nouman and Ariha in the Idleb countryside, as well as some towns over which it shares control with other groups.
Sights are now turned to these two cities after reports circulated of Tahrir al-Sham intending to take control of them and to complete the imposition of its influence over strategic roads and areas in Idleb province. However, statements and movements by Ahrar al-Sham and Saqour al-Sham in their environs suggest they would reject handing these over to Tahrir al-Sham.
Tahrir al-Sham, by taking control of areas that had been under the control of the Nureddin al-Zinki group in the western Aleppo countryside — which it took control of yesterday and were included in the agreement today — is trying to impose its military and administrative influence, as it announced that the areas were under the administrative control of the group’s Salvation Government.
The last few days in the western Aleppo countryside have seen a number of meetings between the Salvation Government and local councils and others with local dignitaries during which the Salvation Government gave promises to improve the service situation of these areas after they went under their administrative control. The Salvation Government also announced it was opening a bureau for complaints and was transferring cases to its courts in the Idleb countryside, pending the preparation of courts in the western Aleppo countryside.
Tahrir al-Sham demanded from Ahrar al-Sham and Saqour al-Sham —according to what has been reported over the last few days — the dissolution of the two factions and their withdrawal, as well as them accepting their military authority and the administration of the Salvation Government over various service and security sectors.
Tahrir al-Sham announced it had imposed its “full” control over the western Aleppo countryside and expelled fighters from the Zinki movement after days-long clashes, amid anticipation over what will occur in the coming days in the Idleb countryside.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.