The campaign to arrest agents and spies affiliated with Russia and the United States within Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), revealed by Syria TV two weeks ago, has not ended. Rather, it has expanded after intensive investigations to include leaders in sensitive positions. The number of those arrested rose to more than 300 members and leaders in the military, administrative and media joints within the HTS and the Syrian Salvation Government, on charges of being agents of the Syrian regime, Russia and the CIA.
Security and military sources told Syria TV two weeks ago that HTS arrested the general administrator of the Ali bin Abi Talib Brigade in the military wing of HTS, along with the security officer of the Eastern Bloc in the central region; the former HTS ‘emir’ in Taftanaz; an assistant to the HTS crossings official; and the editor of the Idleb Post channel, which operates within the HTS’s auxiliary media.
HTS began the arrest campaign after obtaining information and a list of names of leaders involved in “dealing with and spying for the international coalition” from external intelligence. The campaign and internal investigations led to the discovery of another cell working for Russia and the Assad regime.
On June 24th, HTS announced the arrest of a cell affiliated with Hezbollah militias that were active in opposition-controlled areas.
Intersecting sources revealed to Syria TV that the arrest campaign affected leaders in sensitive positions, prompting the commander of HTS, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, to form a small operations room to remedy the major breakthrough within HTS ranks.
Among the recently arrested leaders is the human resources officer in the military wing of HTS, who provided full copies of HTS’s military records along with photos of their military IDs to the CIA.
The arrests also affected military figures on the ground who were supervising the so-called killing of the opposition factions on the Miznaz axis in February 2020, which killed more than 20 fighters from the opposition factions and destroyed several vehicles. Then the opposition factions tried to retake the town from the regime forces so that the attacking force fell into an ambush previously prepared by the regime forces.
Mini-operations room for crisis management
According to Syria TV’s sources, Julani formed something like a crisis management cell or a mini-operations room, which includes alongside him the leaders Abu Ahmad Hudood, Abu Ahmed Zakour and Abdul Rahim Attoun. The decision followed the developments of the issue of the agent cells. The operations room was granted full powers to arrest any individual whose name is mentioned in the investigations, regardless of his position.
The sources did not explain the reasons for the absence of Abu al-Qahtani from participating in the mini-operations room formed by al-Julani, which raises many questions about the reasons for Qahtani’s absence from this operation and such a mission. This is especially true since Qahtani is HTS’ leading security official, and controls several issues related to the issue — most notably, the labour issues of the regime, Russia, the international coalition and ISIS.
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.