DAMASCUS, SYRIA (6:30 P.M.) – Due to renewed tensions in Idlib province, the Syrian revolution is now in danger of collapsing from within as factions loyal to Turkey and Al-Qaeda respectively have begun targeting each other in a massive provincial power battle.
Although skirmishes remain sporadic for now, the Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) stormed the Jabal Al-Zawiyah rural area on Friday and began arresting local militants and non-combattants alike at gun-point, accusing many of collaborating with the Turkey’s so-called ‘Euphrates Shield’ zone of influence in northern Aleppo.
With the chief of the Al-Abbas Brigade suddenly in HTS custody, the rival Ahrar Al-Sham group arrested 20 members of the HTS in retaliation elsewhere in the Idlib countryside.
Adding insult to injury, Ajnad Al-Sham defected back to Ahrar Al-Sham on Thursday after a brief absorption into the Al-Qaeda franchise group. Ajnad Al-Sham boasts several thousands fighters and its defection will likely anger HTS leader Abu Mohammad Al-Julani.
Since 2016, infighting and assassinations have been widespread across Idlib province as an otherwise unified jihadist coalition, Jaish al-Fatah, is on the verge of collapse.