After the ceasefire agreement between HTS and the alliance of Suqor and Ahrar Al Sham was reached on 24 April, a new string of assassination operations has swept across the province of Idlib. The first assassination took place on 26 May by the detonation of IEDs and opening of fire against the factions to the conflict, though they have targeted mainly HTS commanders. As a result, HTS has launched a massive campaign of raids and arrest in its held areas on the presence of dismanlting some Daesh sleeper cells.
The campaigns have targeted most areas in Idlib province. On 6 May, HTS raided a house in Kafr Nubl which claimed it was being used as a shelter by some Dash sleeper cells. The clashes led to the death of two people and the capture of three others.
The campaign of raids and arrest have expanded to Idlib city, Al Dana, Khan Shaykhon, Salqin and other areas in northern Idlib. On 22 May, HTS Amniah arrested a Daesh sleeper cell after besieging their house. On 21 May, HTS attempted to arrest Amar Aba Zayd, a former Daesh commander in Hama and the head of the oil in it, but they failed to do so because the commander was backed by some armed members of his family. Several people were also arrested in Adana on charges of planting IEDs and affiliation with Daesh. On 30 May, another series of mass arrest targeted the residents of Khan Shaykhon south of Idlib on the same charges.
On 5 June, a massive military force of HTS raided a military camp in the village of Kafr Hind, rural Salqin, where some former Iraqi Daesh affiliates were residing, leading to heavy clashes in which more than 18 Daesh fighters were killed and four others were captured.
HTS has executed some of the arrests. On 15 May, the organization executed four people in Idlib city on the charge of ‘murdering mujahideen and planting IEDs’. Two people were executed in Al Dana city, north of Idlib, on 1 June, in addition to the execution of two others from rural Deir Ezzor on the charge of being Daesh Amniah on 5 June.
The campaign of security and executions have pushed some Daesh-affiliated groups to respond. Yesterday, three HTS fighters were beheaded in retaliation to the attack on Kafr Hind village. Two HTS fighters were also executed and left hanging over the being of Ariha city on Saturday.
Daesh fighters had infiltrated into HTS-held areas in Idlib province after they were evacuated from the eastern countryside of Hama. In addition, HTS had released 150 fighters from Dash and Jund Aqssah after the break out of the fighting against Jabhat Tahrir Syria.
Such events point to nothing but that there is a potential return of Daesh to Idlib province, which would also give HTS a good excuse to tighten its security measures against civilians and make life hell for them.