Tahrir al-Sham has raided the positions of Chechen fighters in rural Lattakia, according to an audio recording of Musallam Abu Walid al-Shishani, commander of the Junud al-Sham militia.
The establishment of Junud al-Sham dates back to 2013. Most of its leaders and fighters are originally from Chechnya.
In recent days, Tahrir al-Sham has informed Junud al-Sham’s leader, the Chechen Muslim Shishani, that he must leave northern Syria. This directive is a sudden development, whose causes and implications are not yet clear.
On Friday, jihadist social media accounts posted an audio recording, on which Shishani spoke of a raid on military headquarters in Jabal al-Turkman in search of him.
This raid came one week after Tahrir al-Sham gave Shishani a week to leave the areas under his control, he said.
Shishani, one of the most prominent foreign leaders in northern Syria, said he did not want to cause problems with Tahrir al-Sham and was not looking for the group at the moment.
Shishani noted that all Chechen fighters are planning to leave Syrian territory with him; the deadline issued by Tahrir al-Sham, however, is not enough for so many fighters to leave.
Tahrir al-Sham issued no comment on the aforementioned developments.
However, a public relations official said earlier that the Junud al-Sham group stands accused of forming “security cells and thefts, including cells active in Tal Adeh and Kafar Takharim.”
In recent years, Tahrir al-Sham has moved to dismantle several factions and military formations in the Idleb governorate. Most notably, these factions include the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement, and the Free Syrian Army factions — the most famous of which is the Hazzm Movement.
More recently, Tahrir al-Sham has engaged in hostilities with jihadist factions such as the Guardians of Religion Organization, which continues to operate in small, isolated locations in northwestern Syria.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.