On Saturday, January 28, 2017, a new alliance emerged under the name “Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham”. The group is composed of Fateh Al Sham Front (Formerly Al Nussra Front) and Ansar Al Din faction, an extremist Islamist group, in addition to a number of armed opposition factions (Kata’eb Nour Al Din Al Zinki, Jaish Al Sunna, and Lewa’ Al Haq). The declaration of Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham comes after attacks carried out by Fateh Al Sham on a number of areas under the control of armed opposition factions. These factions are: “Jaish Al Mujahdin, Soqour Al Sham, Failaq Al Sham, Tajamou’ Fastaqem Kama Umert, and some groups that are affiliated to Ahrar Al Sham Movement in some of northern Idlib suburbs’ and western Aleppo suburbs’ areas.” The purpose of these attacks was to gain further popular support and seize the resources of these factions and their respective areas. Fateh Al Sham relied, in these attacks, on its extreme religious fundamentalism and on accusing the factions that agreed to participate in Astana summit of treason, even though these factions expressed their disapproval of targeting “Fateh Al Sham Front”. The attacks took place between Monday, January 23, and Saturday, January 28. We are working on an extensive report that documents the violations by Fateh Al Sham Front during that particular period of time, whereas this statement will focus on the continued violations that occurred following the emergence of this new body.
One day after Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham was formed, we recorded wide arrests and abductions that targeted armed opposition leaders and fighters from the groups that refused to join Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham, in addition to seizing their properties. The situation got even more complicated, as Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham enhanced its military authority in the areas that are partially under its control in Idlib suburbs and western Aleppo suburbs, where new checkpoints and heavy weapons were heavily spread in the streets, and military demonstration were carried out, which partially impeded relief efforts and ambulances’ movement, as medical personnel were afraid that security incidents or clashes might occur in case they passed through the newly established checkpoints.
Between December 28, 2017 and February 1, 2017, SNHR documented that Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham arrested no less than 12 armed opposition fighters from the groups that refused to join them. Additionally, Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham assaulted two vital civilian centers.
Sunday January 29, 2017, armed members from Hay’at Tahrir Al Sham arrested Yaser Al Abd, the military leader of Al Fauj Al Awwal, an armed opposition faction, in Sarmada town in the northern suburbs of Idlib governorate.