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Increasing assassination operations threaten HTS, but are they the carried by non-HTS parties or they are merely the result of internal conflict?

 

 

The assassination operations against HTS fighters and commanders in Idlib and its countryside has recently increased. They have become like a nightmare chasing HTS. Idlib24 team has so far documented the death of 45 HTS members in assassination operations that were carried out in 12 days ( from 2 to 13 February). 24 of them were fighters, commanders and Amniah. On the other hand, 4 members of Ahrar Sham, Free Idlib Army and a commander from the Hizb Turkistani were killed, and 9 civilians were assassinated.

Anti-HTS assassination operations are now something new as the organization was previously targeted. The only difference is that they have increased. with the beginning of February, dozens of assassination operations were carried out in north, south and east of Idlib. The operations included the use of IEDs and surprising raids, most of which were successful and well-planned. HTS could not identity the perpetrators and they just blamed them on some Daesh and Assad sleeper cells. In fact, the assassinations are the result of internal disputes among HTS ranks. On 13 February, an infighting occurred in Maarat Nu’man between two HTS-affiliated factions, which resulted in the death of a civilian. The first faction is led by ‘Abu Majdu Shukhna’ and the second by ‘Fawaz Al-Asfar’. After the infighting, HTS spread disinformation about the death of a man who was trying to assassinate HTS members in the city.

Idlib24 had released detailed reports on anti-HTS assassination operation in February 2018, the latest of which was on 13 February during which 2 HTS members were killed by an IED in Mahmbal area in the countryside of Jissr Shughur. On 12 February, 9 HTS fighters were also killed by an IED that targeted their gathering near the security post in Maart Missrin. 2 HTS executive members were gunned down by unknown gunmen at Ariha checkpoint. In addition, 3 HTS members were killed, along with a woman who was with them, after the explosion of motor bike bomb at the main entrance of Khan SHikhon city in the southern countryside of Idlib. An HTS commander was killed in the explosion of an IED on the Ariha/Mastuma road. On the other hand, two fighters belonging to the local factions were killed nearby Babilah and an HTS member was gunned down by unknown gunmen in the area of Salqin.

 

On 11 February, a commander of Hizb Turkistani was killed after his car was targeted by an IED on the Ariha/Idlib highway. A commander from Free Idlib Army was also assassinated using an IED in the area of Burj Namra north of Idlib.  On 10 February, 9 civlianss,, including a woman, and at least 3 HTS fighters were killed by an IED at the Saa roundabout in Idlib city. Furthermore, unknown gunmen assassinated 9 HTS members in the city of Khan Shikhon in southern Idlib. On 9 February, 5 HTS Amniah were killed by unknown gunmen in the area of Quniyah in rural Jisr shughur. On 7 February, a member of Free Police was killed by an IED near the security post in Al-Ghudfah area. On 4 February, 2 members of local factions were killed by unknown gunmen nearby the Hazano town in northern Idlib. On 2 February, two commanders of Ahrar Sham were killed by an IED on the road of Maarat Missrin, while a man and two of his sons were killed in the explosion of an IED in the city of

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