Militants of Haiy’at Tahrir Alsham (HTS) stormed the town of Maaret Alnouman in rural Idlib on Thursday shortly before iftar time. HTS militants attacked positions and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the town, triggering protests by civilians amid heavy gunfire by HTS militants.
Member of the Syrian Coalition and former President Khaled Khoja said that HTS’s actions only serve the Assad regime. “HTS has assumed the role of the Assad regime after the retreat of the ISIS extremist group,” said Khoja in comments he posted on Twitter on Thursday. “The revolutions will not see good as long as HTS is there.”
Activists pointed out that several HTS militants made their way to the center of the town and encircled several headquarters of the FSA Division 13 and Failaq Alsham amid heavy gunfire by medium and heavy machine guns.
As clashes ensued between HTS and the FSA in central Muaaret Alnouman, residents of the town took to the streets in the northern parts of the town to protest against HTS aggression. They called on HTS to stop attacks on the headquarters of Division 13. HTS responded by opening fire on demonstrators to prevent them from reaching sites of the clashes.
In 2016, HTS, then known as Jabhat Fateh Alsham, raided the headquarters of Division 13 in Muaaret Alnouman. The raids were followed by attempts to assassinate Commander of Division 13 Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Saud while travelling on Khan Alsibil road.
Local activists said that HTS did not give a reason behind the sudden attack on the town, confirming that the clashes that took place among residential neighborhoods inside the town resulted in civilian casualties. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)