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In Idlib, the “rulers” have begun cleaning house.
Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) have moved further in attempting to consolidate power.
The al-Qaeda affiliates launched a security operation against the infamous Chechen leader Muslim Abu Walid al-Shishani and his group Junud al-Sham.
A large security force of HTS stormed several positions of Junud al-Sham in the northern countryside of Lattakia, including the group’s main headquarters in the town of al-Yumaidah.
The militants are searching for al-Shishani, who reportedly took to the northern Lattakia mountains along with his best militants.
In late June, HTS gave al-Shishani an ultimatum: join its ranks or leave Greater Idlib along with his militants.
Al-Shishani refused to join HTS, and then decided to dissolve his group and leave Greater Idlib along with his militants.
He hasn’t left yet, which has led to the situation of militants hunting for other militants in the Lattakia mountains.
Meanwhile, other HTS allies continue to violate the ceasefire agreement, shelling Damascus-controlled towns.
On July 15, al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Tawhid launched a Zilzal heavy improvised rocket at the government-held town of Hizareen in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.
The group claimed that the rocket targeted a gathering of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) inside the town.
In response to these violations and others, the SAA bombarded the Jabal Al-Arbaeen area in southern Idlib with heavy artillery.
These frequent violations wouldn’t be possible if Turkey didn’t refuse to implement any of its responsibilities under the agreement it signed with Russia.
In addition, the Turkish armed forces are primarily focused on targeting the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Ankara’s forces carried out a heavy shelling of SDF positions south of Afrin, in the Aleppo countryside.
Other SDF members were targeted in the towns of Maraanaz and Ain Daqna.
Finally, Turkish forces intensively bombarded the city of Tal Rifaat and the Menagh Military Airport in Aleppo.
Turkish-backed militant factions are targeting various SDF positions, as well.
The Syrian National Army (SNA), a group backed by Ankara, is gathering its forces in the Aleppo countryside, likely to prepare for an operation against the Kurds.
The initial exchange of fire began with the Kurdish group shelling Afrin city, which has been occupied by Ankara for a while now.
It was likely shelled as a warning against the gathering of Turkish-backed militants.
The US-backed SDF is attempting to respond to the frequent shelling, while also dealing with the regular ISIS attacks to which it is subjected too.