The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Idlib crossings | HTS tightens the grip on civilians and takes advantage of strategic locations during war among factions

HTS members stationed at Deir Ballout and Al-Ghazawiyah crossings, connecting to areas controlled by the “National Army” in Afrin within “Olive Branch” area, clamp down on residents by imposing taxes, monopolizing foodstuffs and vegetables. HTS also prevents the residents of the region from entering Idlib, if the diesel quantity in the tanks of their cars is over a half, and it usually confiscates those cars and arrests their owners, in addition to forcing them to pay a hefty fine.


On the other hand, HTS exploits the strategic locations of the two border crossings for military purposes, as they are considered frontlines between HTS and pro-Turkey factions, where HTS tightens the grip on the military personnel of other factions operating in north-western Syria by coordination among commanders before allowing any military personnel to pass through these crossings, as well as preventing them from carrying their weapons, when they are allowed to cross.”


Meanwhile, the “National Army” factions rely on these two crossings as an effective weapon against HTS in case of any escalation between both sides.


The “National Army” resorts to closing these crossings as a punitive measure against HTS during military conflicts, where the leadership of HTS find itself forced to refrain from imposing predominance over formations of the “National Army,” because of the significant economic importance of the two crossings, as the closure of these crossings leads to suspending financial supplies.


On the other hand, both sides only care about showing their power and potentials by closing those crossings, disregarding the movements of civilians between the two regions of influence.


These two crossings provide a significant financial income to HTS; this, in turn, spurs it to tighten security and inspection measures to prevent the crossing of any goods before collecting taxes. This comes as a part of the commercial monopoly practiced by HTS in areas under its control.