SNHR Renews Its Call on the Opposition Factions that Operate under HTS to Urgently Detach themselves from the Group
SNHR has called on the factions operating under Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS) to urgently detach themselves from the group in a report that documents the violations by HTS during the raid on Ma’aret al Nu’man city, southern suburbs of Idlib governorate – June 8, 2017.
The report sees that al Nussra Front Separating from al Qaeda, in late-July 2016, and changing the name do not erase the past’s wrongs. On the contrary, al Qaeda branch might become more extreme and savage, as ISIS did also detach itself from al Qaeda.
The report notes that the Front’s attitude after they separated themselves from al Qaeda hasn’t chanted to moderation and plurality, but proved that the group is still true to its Salafi-Jihadist ideology. Consequently, the group his failed miserably to gain any support or legitimacy within the Syrian society, so it goes without saying that nothing had also changed with regard to it being targeted by the international community.
The report says that Fateh al Sham Front tried to merge with a number of local factions in order to cultivate a popular and international support base. However, these efforts have failed as well, and were followed with wide campaigns against factions from the armed opposition in Aleppo and Idlib governorates. Then, the group went on to form the “Hay’at Tahrir al Sham” alliance on January 28, 2017, which was struck between Fateh al Sham Front and Ansar al Din, which is also an extremist Islamic group, and a number of armed opposition factions (Kata’eb Nour al Din Zenki, Jaish al Sunna, and some groups that separated themselves from armed opposition factions and joined this alliance such as: Mujahedou Ashedaa’, Katibat Soqour al Izz, Katibat Usoud al Rahman, and Lewa’ Ahrar al Jabal).
After seven days, the report notes, SNHR released a statement, in which it called on the armed opposition factions that compose HTS to urgently detach from this group, because anyone who joins al Nussra Front, al Qaeda, or any factions that are listed on the terror lists will be deemed a supporter of these groups, and will be targeted all the same. Unless al Nussra Front changed its ideologies, the group’s emptied attempts to detach from al Qaeda will not come to fruition, even if other factions joined it, or it managed to take over some others. On the contrary, al Nussra Front will drag all of these factions to darkness, nihilism, and being targets. That what will and is happening.
The report draws upon accounts from people who survived the attacks and people who took part in the demonstration that erupted against HTS in Ma’aret al Nu’matn city. The report includes two accounts, in addition to analyzing pictures and videos.
The report notes that June’s attack was not the first, where heated clashes took place inside Ma’aret al Nu’man city between al Ferqa 13, an armed opposition faction, and Fateh al Sham Front -Al Nussra Front at the time- on March 11 and 12, 2016, during which Fateh al Sham Front killed no less than 60 fighters from al Ferqa 13, in addition to carrying out attacks against al Ferqa’s 13 bases in a number of towns in Idlib suburbs. Ultimately, the popular pressure forced Fateh al Sham Front to withdraw from Ma’aret al Nu’man city on March 13, 2016.
According to the report, HTS carried out an armed attack on Ma’aret al Nu’man city, southern suburbs of Idlib, around 19:30 on Thursday, June 8, 2017, under the pretext that an HTS security officer’s father was killed in the city, where they accused al Ferqa 13 of killing him. This led to clashes that lasted until Friday morning, June 9, 2017. The report notes that the clashes were concentrated in al Shamaliya district and the farms of Kafr Rouma village, which is adjacent to Ma’aret al Nu’man city. The clashes also outspread to a number of neighborhoods in Ma’aret al Nu’man city.
The report says that HTS raided al Ferqa 13’s bases and took them, and pursued their fighters while raiding any house that they believe it was for an “al Ferqa 13” fighter and opening fire inside, killing a number of them including colonel Taysir Smahi, a leader of al Ferqa 13 and director of the police station in the city. Also, HTS scattered its fighters in the city mosques and streets.
Furthermore, the report outlines the most notable civilian and vital facilities that HTS attacked and confiscated their properties after the group’s attack on Ma’aret al Nu’man city such as the faculty of education and the educational complex.
The report notes that HTS withdrew from Ma’aret al Nu’man city on Sunday, June 11, 2017 after a meeting with the city figures and in light of the continued demonstrations calling for their withdrawal, and in order to prevent escalation.
The report calls on the international community to take action and not stand idly by with regard to the hundreds of thousands of crimes the Syrian regime perpetrated using all kinds of weapons, considering that many of these crimes exhibited a sectarian-cleansing nature, because this is one of the most important foundations for the rhetoric of the extremist groups that are claiming to protect the Syrian people and Syrian society from the Syrian regime.
Additionally, the report stresses that resorting to the choice of force and killing in dismantling extremist groups as a semi-exclusive central option is not enough, and stop the indulgence of violations that are being committed against them and their popular support bases no matter how much they breached the international humanitarian law.
On the other hand, the report calls on armed opposition factions to urgently detach themselves from this group, and expose its practices, as Fateh al Sham Front (al Nussra Front) is the core component of HTS and the actual director of its operations. The repeated attempts to raid Ma’aret al Nu’man city, and to end all other factions to reach a HTS-Syrian regime duality proves that its ideology is still unchanged.
The report also encourages armed opposition factions to organize awareness campaigns on the ideology of extremist groups and how they infiltrate societies and recruit their youngsters in parallel with workshops on the importance of respecting principle human rights and how to defend them.
Lastly, the report calls on HTS to immediately cease creating a state of anarchy, infighting, and popular resentment. And to respect principle human rights in their areas of control.