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DECEMBER 2021

A Day Of Escalation In Greater Idlib Ends With Al-Shishani Promising To Leave

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A Day Of Escalation In Greater Idlib Ends With Al-Shishani Promising To Leave

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An escalation is taking place in Greater Idlib, but it is not the expected one.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is still expected to begin its ground operation, but the recent violence is a result of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) attacking another militant group in the region.

Heavy clashes took place throughout October 25th, and were brought to an end.

HTS, the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib turned against the Junud al-Sham group led by infamous Chechen leader Muslim Abu Walid al-Shishani. He recently vowed to keep fighting the group until his death because they attempted to push him out of the northwestern Syrian region.

In the early hours on October 25th, HTS militants sent more than 100 units of heavy weapons to the Jabal at-Turkman district in the north of Latakia province, where the group’s headquarters is located.

Following the attack, al-Shishani’s Junud al-Sham and their supporters from a dozen of militant groups issued a joined statement, calling to stop the clashes and start negotiations.

This led to nothing, as HTS continued using anti-aircraft weapons and heavy machine guns, as well as UAVs to target the militant groups in this round of infighting.

HTS stormed the northern areas of Jisr al-Shughur city with tanks attacking Junud al-Sham positions.

A squad of 15 HTS fighters was captured on the fronts of the Turkman Mountains while trying to attack the positions of al-Shishani and others who claim to be independent of HTS.

Finally, after casualties on both sides and hours of heavy fighting, Al-Shishani, and representatives of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham reached an agreement.

As a result, al-Shishani and about seventy of his allies left the place where they settled in the At-Turkman mountains.

Other foreign jihadists from other groups refused to lay down their arms and appear before the so-called Sharia court. It is likely that HTS will deal with them on October 26th and the following days.

As this is going, the SAA and Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) are continuing to strike and shell militant positions throughout Greater Idlib.

Three Russian air strikes struck the Jisr Al-Shughour area in Western Idlib, while the SAA used Krasnopol artillery to target militant positions in the town of al-Dana.

Alongside this entire chaos, Israeli helicopters hit three targets in Syria near the border in the early hours of October 25th. The missiles struck targets allegedly connected to Hezbollah on the outskirts of the town of al-Baath as well as other locations in southern Syria.

According to Syrian media, two of the sites were observation posts used by the Lebanese group, while the third target was a site just next to a Syrian military facility. There were no confirmed casualties, only material damage.

Later in the day, the Israeli military reportedly dropped leaflets in the Syrian Golan mentioning Cpt. Bashar al-Hussein by name and warning Syrian troops to avoid cooperating with Hezbollah. Hussein is the commander of a reconnaissance company in the SAA’s 90th Brigade.

Due to the escalation, it is likely that most, if not all, “stakeholders” are beginning to make movements, trying to take advantage of the situation. It is likely that Turkey is planning to begin carrying out its own plans against the Kurdish groups in northwest Syria, as this is a suitable moment when most observers are focused on an entirely different crisis.

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