Confidential sources in the countryside of Idleb have provided information to Athr regarding the efforts of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies, HTS) to remove numerous foreign militants. These militants are being coerced into travelling to Ukraine to engage in combat against Russian forces or carry out acts of harassment.
According to the sources, the HTS has adopted a new approach to handling foreign fighters who are actively involved in their ranks or within the Turkistan Islamic Party. HTS has implemented measures such as imposing restrictions, seizing their homes and finances, and compelling them to journey to Ukraine via Turkish territory. The purpose of this forced deployment is to confront Russian forces, with the promise of monthly salaries reaching up to $3,000. Failure to comply with these directives results in the HTS implementing various measures, including apprehension, asset confiscation, and separation from their spouses.
What is the reason for the elimination of foreign militants?
Informed sources have disclosed that the leader of HTS, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, in Idleb, has expressed a desire to eliminate foreign militants. This intention stems from Julani’s aspiration to position himself as part of the moderate opposition, particularly in anticipation of any future political settlement. Julani seeks to play a significant role in such a settlement and, to that end, maintains regular meetings with Turkish officers. He also complies with their requests on the ground and maintains consistent coordination with the Washington-led international coalition. Julani provides them with coordinates and information about the movement and locations of Hurras al-Din militants, with the aim of facilitating their elimination and subsequently having HTS removed from the list of internationally designated terrorist organizations.
Since HTS assumed control over the majority of the countryside in the Idleb governorate in 2017, agreements have been forged with other factions in the region. These factions include Ansar al-Tawhid, Hurras al-Din, and the Turkistan Islamic Party, where foreign militants constitute over 70% of their total strength. HTS has mandated their presence on the fronts of Jabal al-Zawiya, located in southern Idleb, and Jisr al-Shughour, situated in the southwest of the governorate. Furthermore, HTS has established separate settlements for some of these militants in the northeastern countryside, specifically in the Lattakia mountains, ensuring their segregation from other militants. HTS provides comprehensive logistical, military, and financial support to these foreign militants in exchange for their complete field coordination with HTS.
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.