‘Radical’ fighters ‘capture 20 towns and villages’ from rebels in western Aleppo

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Over the previous two years, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has commonly fought the Nationwide Liberation Entrance for territory in and round Idlib province (AFP)

Civilians and rebels in Syria’s final main opposition bastion have informed Center East Eye they worry Russia and pro-government forces will start bombing the world after ‘radical’ fighters made main positive factors from rebels on the bottom.

After 4 days of clashes, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has seized greater than 20 cities and villages from rival rebels within the northern province of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated on Friday.

“HTS was in a position to take management of areas beforehand held by Noureddine al-Zinki within the west of the Aleppo countryside,” the UK-based activist group stated, including that greater than 100 fighters had been killed within the preventing.

These areas lie within the northeast of Syria’s final main insurgent bastion, which incorporates a big a part of Idlib province in addition to adjoining elements of Aleppo and Hama provinces.

Al-Zinki is a significant participant within the Nationwide Liberation Entrance (NLF), a Turkish-backed insurgent alliance which is a part of the Free Syrian Military (FSA).

The clashes initially started after HTS, which is led by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate, on Monday accused al-Zinki of killing 5 of its fighters.

Combating flared on Tuesday within the northern province of Aleppo earlier than increasing to the neighbouring provinces of Idlib and Hama within the following days.

Airstrikes by regime ally Russia hit the west of Aleppo province late on Friday, killing two civilians within the city of Darat Izza, the Observatory stated.

They have been the primary such raids within the space since a deal in September between Moscow and insurgent backer Ankara to stave off a large regime offensive on the broader Idlib area.

‘We have been within the center’

Civilians and rebels residing within the western Aleppo countryside worry that the Syrian authorities will use the HTS takeover to justify an assault on the world. 

Khalil Mohsen, 34, who lives in Ezaz village, informed MEE that preventing passed off round residential areas.

“We have had a horror evening yesterday, clashes have been unreal, tanks and heavy arms have been getting used and we have been within the center because the preventing was between the residential areas,” he stated.

After HTS’s capturing this huge lands, it will likely be a official goal for Assad and Putin’s jets

Khalil Mohsen, Ezaz village

“After the assaults completed, warplanes began flying and bombing across the metropolis, we really feel left alone from everybody, even the FSA who ought to have stood up collectively to cease HTS.”

Commenting on HTS’s takeover, Mohsen added: “Now, the regime and Russia can have nobody to disclaim their concept of marking the entire Idlid and Aleppo countryside with a radical theme, after HTS’s capturing this huge lands, it will likely be a official goal for Assad and Putin’s jets.”

In Urem within the Aleppo countryside, Ismael al-Barkat, a 29-year-old garments store proprietor, informed MEE: “We may hear heavy clashes, on the identical time, jets have been flying backwards and forwards, a number of of them hit the southern a part of Urem the place two vehicles acquired burnt.

“Despite the fact that, over the previous months a number of assaults have been occurring and Assad was violating the Sochi and Astana agreements, we have been form of effective when it comes to emotions, however now we’re very involved and considering to depart presumably to someplace safer, as a result of, I consider that the approaching days are going to be tough and a massacre shall be again.”

“Everyone seems to be upset with the HTS and different factions, why would they let this occur inside the liberated areas, and why would HTS assault the FSA, and why would HTS take these areas, solely to present Assad and Russia the appropriate to assault us ones once more?”

‘Blood and hellfire’

Sadam Rashed, a 34-year-old al-Zinki fighter, who was displaced from the town of Aleppo with the remainder of his mates within the group and has ever since been residing within the Aleppo countryside, stated: “HTS has at all times been attempting to arrange a combat between us and them.

‘Nevertheless, it did not work out till now, they’ve brutally attacked and killed our and their mates as an alternative of preventing in opposition to Assad which is one thing they’ve not accomplished for ages.

“The instruments and weaponry HTS used on this bloody offensive may have been launched in opposition to Assad’s frontline and will have been used to recapture a lot of his territories, as an alternative they’ve attacked us, killed and executed a lot of our fellow fighters.

“I’m now with different fighters with our household within the Afrin space and may’t return to the place we have been residing, not as a result of Assad has captured the world, however as a result of HTS did, they’re the identical for us.

“Capturing these areas by them will carry solely blood and hellfire upon folks, it will likely be their sin, sadly, folks should pay the worth of their actions.”

‘Ready for such a chance’

Colonel Ahmad Rahal, a Syrian military defector who now lives in Turkey, additionally questioned the timing of the HTS takeover. 

“The HTS assault sadly will inevitably lead to one other wave of assaults in north Syria,” he informed MEE.

“HTS has captured areas from the FSA, what is the level of it on this vital time when Russia and Assad are ready for such a chance to assault the Aleppo countryside and Idlib, which is what occurred yesterday in lots of areas.”

Two HTS fighters and 14 rebels have been killed within the preventing on Friday, the Observatory stated.

The casualties brings the general loss of life toll to 61 HTS fighters, 58 rebels, and 10 civilians in 4 days, it stated.

Over the previous two years, HTS has commonly fought the NLF for territory in and round Idlib province.

Sparked by the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011, Syria’s civil battle has killed greater than 360,000 folks and displaced tens of millions.

Zouhir al-Shimale contributed to this report

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