On Wednesday, several areas in Idleb governorate — which are under the control of Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies — witnessed a security alert, along with an intensive deployment of HTS militants. These developments coincided with an internet shutdown and the deployment of security barriers and military vehicles. These events occurred against the background of a coup carried out at HTS headquarters against its leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, according to activists and analysts in northwestern Syria.
Local sources in rural Idleb revealed to Athr Press that HTS’ Security Office arrested one HTS leader, Abu Mahdi Al-Hamwi, due to disputes over stolen royalties that were recently collected and placed in Hamwi’s house. Hamwi then refused to share the spoils with the rest of the leaders. The Sharia Commission Court issued a decision to arrest Hamwi, prompting him to appeal to some armed men loyal to him personally and gather on the outskirts of Idleb city to prevent his arrest by the Security Office.
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On the other hand, opposition media reported that the “hawk’s wing” of HTS headquarters, led by Mazhar Alweiss and Abu Maria al-Qahtani, attempted a coup against Julani and failed. They were pursued towards the Syrian-Turkish border — which headquarters denied — stressing: “There were some suspicious calls of a regional nature to attack and sabotage some institutions. They took advantage of the arrest of a man from Hama under a judicial order. This situation demanded that the Security Office deal with the issue firmly and seriously.”
In this regard, strategist and political analyst Kamal al-Jaffa confirmed in a statement to Athr Press that today’s events in Idleb are defections from HTS’ base due to Julani’s new strategy. This approach calls for completing the establishment of an Islamic political entity, which was announced last April, in strict coordination with US intelligence. Jaffa pointed out that other hypotheses that are being talked about do not justify this broad mobilization of HTS militants in all areas of Idleb.
Jaffa added that there were differences between Julani and Qahtani. Julani has made the loudest calls toward opening up to the West in implementing the American project to move HTS away from extremism. This step would lead to the removal of HTS from terrorism lists.
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.