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HTS Islamic terror group and its partners have launched at least 40 drone attacks in Idlib in support of illegal Turkish invaders despite cease fire agreed to by Turkey and Russia

March 14, 2020

3/11/20, Despite Al-Nusra Breaches, Syria and Russia Working to Open M5 Highway,” 21st Century Wire, Khaled Iskef

“The Syrian state, through its specialized service directorates, has begun the work of opening the [M4 and] M5 international highway which connects Aleppo to Lattakia, in preparation for the implementation of the Russian-Turkish agreement recently concluded by Presidents Putin and Erdogan in Moscow.

On Tuesday, specialized workers began to remove the barriers that were blocking the road from the Syrian state’s regions of Lattakia governate on the Syrian coast, and repair and rehabilitation works for the international highway were carried out within sections controlled by the Syrian state forces.

Government sources have indicated that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is now fully committed to the ceasefire outlined in the agreement, noting that removing the barriers from the road demonstrates the commitment of the Syrian state to the prescribed terms, despite all the violations committed by terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham aka “HTS” (former known as al-Nusra Front, aka al-Qaeda in Syria) and its allied factions since the activation of the new agreement midnight last Thursday [March 5].

[Image: HTS Islamic terrorist group in Idlib  carries Al Qaeda flag:They carry al-Qaeda flags, they practise al-Qaeda methods. (getty) UN Security Council Resolution 2254 states that Syria has complete right to clear terrorists off its land and that ceasefires don’t apply when removing terrorists. Trump regime likes HTS, says they’re not bothering anyone and effectively should be allowed  to steal land from Syria convert it to a caliphate: “None of them have been threatening the Russians or the Syrian military in any way out of Idlib.]

(continuing): “In the same context, the number of breaches committed by HTS reached to about 40 from Thursday to Tuesday morning [March 5-10], with Lattakia governate received the largest share of these breaches as a result of the drones launched by the HTS and allied militants [terrorists] targeting the [invited] Russian military base at Hmeimim, followed by incursions in Aleppo and Idlib governates.

It is noteworthy that HTS had announced, in an official statement issued a few days ago, its rejection of the “Moscow Agreement” and its refusal to abide by it as it did in previous agreements....The agreement included an affirmation of fighting designated terrorist organizations listed by the UN Security Council.

It should also be noted that one of the most prominent provisions of the Russian-Turkish agreement is the issue of opening the international highway that links the cities of Aleppo and Lattakia, provided that the safe buffer zones from the [terrorist] militant-controlled areas through which the road passes by is 6 kilometers to the north and 6 kilometers to the south. This necessarily means the withdrawal of the armed factions from several important cities, namely Areha and Jisr al-Shughour, but still no signs of implementation appear to have been recorded.

Until [terrorist] militant groups begin to recede from those positions which threaten the stability of the [M4 and] M5 highway, then further violent clashes can be expected.”

***
“Author Khaled Iskef is an independent researcher and journalist based in Syria. His work has appeared on a number of international media outlets including Al Mayadeen TV. See his archive here.”

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Among comments:

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“John Marks

It’s the M4 that’s the Aleppo-Latakia motorway.
M5 is Aleppo-Damascus.

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Added:

July 2017: “Idlib province is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 911....Idlib now is a huge problem. It is an Al Qaeda safe haven right on the border of Turkey.” US official Brett McGurk, July 2017.…From Nov. 13, 2015-Dec. 31, 2018, McGurk was “Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.”

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Added: Just three years later, Trump regime official James Jeffrey claims Idlib terrorists aren’t bothering anyone outside of Idlib and should be left alone. Ongoing Christian genocide in Idlib is clearly fine with Trump regime. In his Jan. 30, 2020 remarks, Jeffrey fails to observe that Idlib is sovereign Syrian land and that thousands of innocent Syrian citizens are hostages there, prevented from leaving. Nor is it a problem that  “Western” reporters can’t go to Idlib for fear of being captured and beheaded by HTS. Following are 1/30/20 Jeffrey remarks, US State Dept. transcript:

Moderator:  Thank-you.  Our next question comes to us from Ece Goksedef with BBC’s Turkish service. They ask, “Moscow says that they were fighting against terrorists in Idlib, but as per Ankara, the fighters in Idlib are not terrorists; they are fighting for their freedom. What is the U.S. stance on that?”

[Jeffrey’s short answer: Idlib would be just fine if Syria would stop trying to remove terrorists embedded there. No one from Idlib is threatening anyone outside of Syria. Jeffrey doesn’t mention Idlib’s Christian holocaust that began in 2015 and continues.]

(continuing): “Ambassador Jeffrey: Our stance is there are groups that are – been designated by us and by the United Nations as terrorist organizations in Idlib.  We have taken military operations against several of them, several al-Qaida elements….So, we recognize that there are terrorists in Idlib. There’s also a very large group, the al-Nusra or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, HTS, that is an al-Qaida offshoot. It is considered a terrorist organization [by the UN], but it is primarily focused on fighting the Assad regime. It itself claims-we haven’t accepted that claim yet, but they do claim to be patriotic opposition fighters, not terrorists. We have not seen them generate, for example, international threats for some time. Nonetheless, none of them have been threatening the Russians or the Syrian military in any way out of Idlib We watch very closely the claims that the Russians say that these people are launching attacks and the Russians are only retaliating, or the Syrian regime is only retaliating. That’s not true. There are a few inconsequential attacks from time to time – drones and the like – coming out of Idlib, but extremely minor, rare, and doing little damage, creating little, few, or no casualties. These are just used as an excuse for this massive thing.”…

No, Mr. Jeffrey, the “excuse” is UN Security Council Resolution 2254 which encourages all countries to remove terrorists from their land and exempts all such efforts from ceasefires:

UN Security Council Resolution 2254 regarding Syria calls on all UN “Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts...and to eradicate the safe haven they [terrorist groups] have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these [terrorist] individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities, as set forth in the November 2015 ISSG Statement.”

Further: Ongoing Christian genocide in Idlib is clearly fine with Trump regime. HTS “patriots” have seized houses and businesses owned by Christians who have been forced to flee Idlib:

Many Christian families have left Idlib abroad or to areas inside Syria since extremist groups took over Idlib in 2015.”

Jan. 14, 2020,HTS Confiscates no less than 550 Homes and Businesses Belonging to Christians in Idlib, Syrians for Truth and Justice, stj-sy.org…download as PDF… This post in: Arabic

HTS utilized the seized property to reside its fighters’ families or to lease it for large sums.”

“Introduction:

In late 2018, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) started confiscating houses and businesses belonging to Christians-who were forced [when HTS terrorists took over in 2015] by  war to leave the city- citing their absence.[1] Up to 550 houses and businesses were seized by HTS as of October 2019. According to witnesses, HTS used those properties for lease or as residences to families of its fighters.

According to STJ field researcher, many Christian families have left Idlib abroad or to areas inside Syria since extremist groups took over Idlib in 2015, leaving all their property. Some, however, rented their homes and businesses or entrusted them to relatives or acquaintances who remained in the city. Only a few numbers of Christians are still residing in the city, specifically in its western part, but facing harassments and abuses by HTS agents, who even prevented them from practicing their religious rituals. And it is to be noted that HTS has seized the only church in Idlib since 2017, and rented parts of it to a person, who established an educational institute in there.

HTS’ arbitrary seizures extended to include three old markets (in Arabic: khanat sing. Khan) in Idlib Kabbad al-Hubob Khan, Fahdi Khan-for the sale of oils- and Ghannoum Khan. STJ field researcher confirmed that HTS has seized entirely these three old markets, which have stores and warehouses owned by Christian merchants and of a great symbolic importance for Idlib’s people.

Earlier in 2018, HTS with the Guardians of Religion Organization/ Hurras al-Din seized 750 houses belonging to Christians, in rural Jisr al-Shughur, citing their absence. Some of those seized houses have been occupied by families of the Organization’s fighters.[2]

Added to that, HTS’ robbery of public facilities and properties in Idlib, and the seizure of the grain silo in southern Saraqib.[3]

1. HTS seizes 100 houses and businesses in Idlib in 2019:

Since June 2019, HTS has seized 100 houses and businesses owned by Christians, who have left Idlib during the years of the Syrian conflict. Most of the businesses seized are in the Clock Market and the Jewelry Market; the biggest markets in Idlib. According to a local source, HTS’ annual revenues from the rent of the Christians’ houses exceeded 70,000 USD. The same source added that HTS still seizing the only Christian church in the city and had leased part of it to some person, who established an educational institution there, and now repairing the left part to rent it also; thereby capturing all properties of the Christians who had left the city.[4]

Ahmed M., from Idlib, had rented a two-floor building owned by a Christian-who left the city in the war years- and turned it to an educational institution. Ahmed used to send the amount of rent to the owner until the HTS’ “Spoils Office” sent him a summons in June 2019; He said:

“I went to the “Spoils Office” few days after I receive the summons, and told them that I had rented the building under a legal contract between me and its original owner and that I pay him the rent regularly. They said, however, that this contract is void because it should be registered at their office in Idlib by the original owner and until then the building would be at their disposal; thus I have to conclude a new contract with HTS and to pay the rent amount to its “Spoils Office”. When I refused, they gave me an ultimatum to the end of June 2019 to empty the building from my stuff and get out of it or they would remove me by force; indeed, this is what happened, and the building is now completely at their disposal.”

Subhi S., another witness from Idlib, said to STJ that HTS seized a business he had been renting for several years under a contract with its Christian owner, whom he used to send the amount of rent every three months to his new residence in Aleppo, until HTS sent him a summons in late June 2019 to investigate this matter; he said:

“The next day I received the summons, I went to HTS’ “Spoils Office”, and met its head, Abu Ubaida, who told me that HTS took possession of the business I’m renting, and thus I have to give the rent amount to the “Spoils Office” from now on or to terminate this lease otherwise. He said that this was a temporary measure pending the return of the original owner to Idlib to attest the rent contract. He gave me a period of about a week, either to pay the rent to them or to get out of the business. Indeed, I got out of it and removed all of my stuff and it is now at their disposal.”

2. The takeover of 400 homes and 50 businesses in Idlib, in late 2018:

Only very few of the Idlib’s Christians are still living there, knowing that most of those who left, own businesses in the famous Jewelry Market in the city. This was confirmed to STJ by Joseph B., 60, a textile merchant from Idlib, as he said that he had assumed responsibility for several homes belonging to his relatives who had abandoned Idlib due to war hostilities. However, since Idlib has been taken over by HTS in 2015, the latter started asking the Christian families in the city to present titles of the homes they are living in, and confiscated the empty houses whose owners left, including that of Joseph’s brother, which was seized on October 19, 2018 on the pretext of the latter’s reside in a regime-held area in the city of Hama, Joseph went on to say:

“On that day, HTS members seized my brother’s house-located in the western neighborhood of lack of security and safety the city- and didn’t allow me to take any piece of furniture or even to enter it. Frankly, the life of the Christians who remained in Idlib became very harsh, especially since their numbers are very few, as the majority of them migrated to the neighboring countries or to Europe, or displaced to regime-held areas. Today, HTS trespassing the properties of all the Christians who left the city; estimated 50 businesses and 400 houses. In addition, HTS has got its hand on the markets (khanat) under legislation from the Department of Services of the Salvation Government. Added to all of this, the lack of security and safety in the city of Idlib, not to mention our inability to practice our own religious rites. “

3. HTS claims the rent amounts:

In early October 2019, HTS announced its possession of the properties owned by Christians in Idlib and summoned the tenants to their offices to obtain a consent authorizing them to stay in these properties, provided paying the monthly rental fee to it, not to the properties’ original owners. In this regard, George M., a jeweler from Idlib, said to STJ:

“I have been living in Idlib for nearly 65 years. I’m a jeweler and my parents own more than one store in the Jewelry Market. On October 17, 2018, the Salvation Government closed the shops in the Jewelry Market, and issued ultimatums to their tenants to go to the services department of the Salvation Government within three days to obtain new lease agreement papers. The surprise was that HTS asked to conclude new lease contracts, with it to be the second party instead of the original owners, and thereby getting paid the monthly rent. However, when a tenant refused to renew the contract with HTS, the latter forced him out of the store.HTS seized more than 50 businesses in Idlib and most of the houses in its western neighborhood.”

Joseph I. another witness from the city of Idlib, who had been displaced several years ago to the province of Aleppo, and rented his house and business in Idlib to one of his friends called Rifaat Sh., who called him in October 2018, telling him that he was told to go to the Salvation Government’s real estate office and pay the monthly rent to them instead, he said:

“I used to rent my house and store for SYP 15.000 per month, but after they became at the disposal of the HTS, their tenant forced to pay SYP 35.000, to HTS’ real estate office in Idlib. This decision has been circulated to all tenants of Christians’ homes in Idlib. I have been told by the tenant of my property that HTS justified that seizure by my absence from the city, as I have displaced from it since 2015.”

Rifaat. Sh., a friend of the witness, Joseph I. also gave a statement saying that on the morning of October 17, 2018, HTS agents came to him and told him to visit the real estate office to conclude a rent contract with HTS instead of that he had with the original owner, giving him a deadline until the end of the same month, otherwise the house and the shop will be confiscated and he will be removed from them, he continued:

“I went to HTS’ real estate office, where I was told that the rent amount of the house and shop became SYP 35.000 and I have to pay it to HTS from then on. I asked them to reduce the amount but they refused and told me to evacuate the estate or to pay. However, I told Joseph-the original owner of the house and store- about that and he accepted me to conclude a new contract with HTS and providing that he will send me an amount of SYP 25.000 per month in exchange for my stay in the house and the store in order to maintain the furniture. The number of homes whose residents were forced to conclude new rental contracts with HTS was estimated at 100 in Idlib, in addition to approximately 40 shops.”


“[1] On January 28, 2017, several Jihadi factions in northern Syria announced the merger under the name of “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham/HTS” They were; Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front), Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, Liwa al-Haqq, Jabhat Ansar al-Din, Jaysh al-Sunna and Ansar al-Sham. However, Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement declared its secession from HTS against the background of the recent clashes between the latter and Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya in northern Syria on July 20, 2017.

[2] “Syria: At least 750 Christian Houses Illegally Seized in Jisr al-Shughur, Idlib”, STJ, September 10, 2019 (last visit: October 11, 2019) https://stj-sy.org/en/syria-at-least-750-christian-houses-illegally-seized-in-jisr-al-shughur-idlib/.

[3] “grain silo southern Saraqib Syria: Large-Scale Public Facility Robberies and Pillage Committed by HTS in Idlib”, STJ, November 15, 2018, (last visit: November 21, 2018) https://stj-sy.org/en/974/.

[4] In 2015, the church of Idlib was seized by groups affiliated to Al-Nusra Front/Jabhat al-Nusra, who turned part of it to a Sharia institute and used the other parts as accommodations for their fighters.”

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Added: HTS terror group shares same goal as US: getting rid of Assad and Iranians:

“The group [HTS] is locally focused, with its primary objective being the establishment of Islamic rule in Syria via “toppling the criminal [Assad] regime and expelling the Iranian militias.”

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Added: As of 6/3/2019, HTS is still on UN terror list, per AFP:

Most of Idlib is controlled by [Salafist Islamic terror group] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [HTS], a group dominated by former members of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate which is on the UN terrorism list.”

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Added: May 2017, US takes HTS off terror list:

May 2017, US Takes Syria’s Al-Qaeda [HTS] Off Terrorist Watchlist,” Mint Press News, Whitney Webb...By changing its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda has managed to secure its removal from the U.S. and Canadian terror watchlists, allowing citizens of those countries to donate money and travel to fight with themand the US to send them weapons…”Both the U.S. and Canada placed Jabha al-Nusra on their terrorist lists in 2012 but the U.S-led coalition against ISIS has often left the Syrian offspring untouched as it has continued to expand and conducted the typical operations of Islamic terrorism: killing “infidels,” enslaving women, stoning moderate Muslims and obliterating the structures and icons of other religions. Yet when al-Nusra became HTS it was removed from the terror list, and the U.S. State Department has even told CBC News that HTS members are no longer consider terrorists.” 5/14/2017, “Al-Qaida Affiliate Gets Off Terrorist List By Changing Name, Daily Caller, David Krayden…With al-Nusra now officially removed from Western terror watchlists, foreign governments that are opposed to the Assad regime – particularly the U.S. – will be free to fund and arm al-Qaeda as they see fit, making the West’s alleged goal of creating a post-Assad “secular Syria” a remote possibility at best.”

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Added:

“The biggest lie in US foreign policy – officially fighting terrorism while secretly supporting it.”

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More on Trump regime’s “appalling” chronic liar James Jeffrey:

Jan. 30, 2020, Trump regime’s James Jeffrey lies about Syria, falsely claims Syria violates UN ceasefire rule 2254: “Live At State Briefing with Ambassador James Jeffrey,”

Fact check on James Jeffrey: His statement about Syria and UN 2254 is False:UN Security Council Resolution 2254 regarding Syria calls on all UN “Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts…and to eradicate the safe haven they [terrorist groups] have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities, as set forth in the November 2015 ISSG Statement.”

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Added:

“Every single Syrian death in this [9 year] conflict is, legally, the fault of the aggressors: the United States.”…9/6/2018, “Trump Protects Al Qaeda, “The Resistance” Applauds, Cursing “Russians”,” Black Agenda Report, Glen Ford: Donald Trump is now guilty of the same crime–the one that ten Nazis were hanged for at Nuremburg.”…

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Added: Northern Syria: Armed HTS security watches Sharia lesson in a sports field:

Image, 10/1/2019, A member of HTS security forces in a routine watch to a Sharia lesson in a sports field northern Syria. photo credit: Ebaa News Agency of HTS.”…“HTS Arrests 22 Civilians in Idlib for Different Reasons,” stj-sy.org, Syrians for Truth and Justice

Image with Al Qaeda flag: HTS is the most powerful group in the only remaining area still held by [terrorists] rebels in Syria.” getty via BBC. They carry al-Qaeda flags, they practise al-Qaeda methods.“...Feb. 18, 2020, “Syria: Who’s in control of Idlib?” BBC, b

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Added: As of 6/3/2019, HTS is still on UN terror list, per AFP:

Most of Idlib is controlled by [Salafist Islamic terror group] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [HTS], a group dominated by former members of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate which is on the UN terrorism list.”

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Added: But in May 2017, US took HTS headslicers off terror list, two sources. State Dept. says HTS members are no longer considered terrorists.

May 2017, US Takes Syria’s Al-Qaeda [HTS] Off Terrorist Watchlist,Mint Press News, Whitney Webb…

By changing its name to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda has managed to secure its removal from the U.S. and Canadian terror watchlists, allowing citizens of those countries to donate money and travel to fight with themand the US to send them weapons…“With al-Nusra now officially removed from Western terror watchlists, foreign governments that are opposed to the Assad regime – particularly the U.S. – will be free to fund and arm al-Qaeda as they see fit, making the West’s alleged goal of creating a post-Assad “secular Syria” a remote possibility at best.”

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5/14/2017, Al-Qaida Affiliate Gets Off Terrorist List By Changing Name, Daily Caller, David Krayden…

Both the U.S. and Canada placed Jabha al-Nusra on their terrorist lists in 2012 but the U.S-led coalition against ISIS has often left the Syrian offspring untouched as it has continued to expand and conducted the typical operations of Islamic terrorism: killing “infidels,” enslaving women, stoning moderate Muslims and obliterating the structures and icons of other religions. Yet when al-Nusra became HTS it was removed from the terror list, and the U.S. State Department has even told CBC News that HTS members are no longer consider terrorists.

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Added: Another source, CSIS think tank, says State Dept. listed HTS as a terror group in May 2018:

“Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS or the “Organization for the Liberation of the Levant”) traces its beginnings to the outset of the Syrian civil war and has remained a dangerous opposition force throughout the duration of the conflict. In May 2018, the group was added to the State Department’s existing designation of its predecessor, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Today, HTS can be thought of as a relatively localized Syrian terrorist organization, which retains a Salafi-jihadist ideology despite its public split from al-Qaeda in 2017.”

 

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