Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) issued a statement dismissing Jihad Issa al-Sheikh, codenamed Abu Ahmad Zakour, who announced his defection from HTS three days ago.
A confidential source in Idleb countryside confirmed to Athr Press that Zakour is the third man in the HTS after al-Julani and al-Qahtani, explaining that he was responsible for the economic wing of the HTS and handled financial matters, including gas stations, restaurants, and funds collected from civilians, merchants, and landowners through royalties, taxes, and checkpoint fees on goods and cars entering the areas under its control in Idleb countryside.
Regarding the reason for Zakour’s defection, sources mentioned that HTS’ leader, Julani, was planning to isolate Zakour and impose house arrest. This was due to Zakour possessing sensitive information about Julani’s investments inside and outside Idleb within Turkish territory. Zakour received this information through the mediation of one of Julani’s aides, prompting him to flee to the countryside of Aleppo – areas controlled by Ankara factions – with approximately $25 million.
After Zakour went to the countryside of Aleppo, HTS issued a decision to dismiss Jihad Issa al-Sheikh, accusing him of abusing his position and violating the general policy of the HTS. Athr Press sources suggested that secret negotiations took place between HTS and the former leader, Abu Ahmed Zakour, to prevent the leakage of sensitive information, with Zakour receiving a substantial amount of money in return.
This year, HTS experienced a notable rebellion movement among its leaders, prompting its leader, Julani, to launch arrest campaigns against several leaders. In September, he ordered the arrest of 50 individuals, including an official responsible for manufacturing explosives.
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.