Battles between Ahrar Al-Sham and Tahrir Al-Sham expand to include Idlib Province from east to west and from its north to its southern borders with Hama
The fighting continues in the northern Syria between the main factions operating in Idlib Province, since it broke out last night, the 18th of July 2017. The SOHR observed the developments on the ground since battles broke out till this moment; battles that caused casualties among civilians and fighters. The SOHR documented the death of 11 fighters at least in targeting and clashes between Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement and Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham while 3 civilians, including a female citizen, lost their lives as a result of being hit by bullets and shrapnel during the exchange of targeting. The SOHR also observed that Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham managed to regain control over Al-Dana and Azmareen towns after losing them to Ahrar Al-Sham during the night. Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham also took full control of Hazarin and Kafrnebbul, amid information about handing both towns over to Idlib Free Army. Local sources and activists accused Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham of baffling the public opinion by claiming that they are handing the areas under their control to other factions in order not to leave any excuse for Ahrar Al-Sham to attack the towns that they claim to have handed over to “Idlib Free Army”. The local people also confirmed that there are protests against the fighting taking place calling upon all parties to rid the villages under their control from any military manifestations. Moreover, Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham managed to take control of Harem city following the withdrawal of Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement from there. The sounds of gunfire was then heard in the area and local sources said that Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham fighters are behind that in an attempt to make people believe that there were clashes taking place.
Clashes also take place between both parties in Salqeen area in the northern countryside of Idlib, while Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham launched a violent attack on the south of Saraqeb town which enabled them to take control of its silos after the withdrawal of Ahrar Al-Sham and of a prison inside the silos. Sources said that there were a number of prisoners there who are still held by Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham but some of them were released. Information was reported about Tahrir Al-Sham’ use of armored vehicles in some areas, amid explosions that were heard in the vicinity of Saraqeb. Explosions coincided with holding a demonstration condemning the attack on the town and calling for halting hostilities. Demonstrators also called on Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham to stop their aggression on Ahrar Al-Sham. Meanwhile, a violent explosion rocked Armanaz town in the northwestern countryside of Idlib as a result of a bombing that targeted one of the locations of Ahrar Al-Sham Movement. Contradictory information was reported about whether the explosion was caused by a booby-trap or an explosive device. As a result, 17 persons, including members and security officers from Ahrar Al-Sham in the town, were injured and 3 of them at least died of their injuries. In addition, clashes broke out in the vicinity of Jarjanaz town in the eastern countryside of Idlib between both parties, amid an exchange of targeting, causing the injury of civilians. Information was reported about the death of a female citizen. Violent battles also take place between both parties in Ahrash Benneen in Jabal Al-Zawiyah, amid an advancement made by Ahrar Al-Sham Movement. Information was reported about the arrest of some of the members of Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham as part of Ahrar Al-Sham attempt to take full control of Al-Ahrash. There were also skirmishes at a checkpoint near Al-Atareb area, near the western administrative borders between Aleppo and Idlib, amid a state of alert among the fighters of Tahrir Al-Sham in Regiment 46 which is near Al-Atareb in the western countryside of Aleppo.
During the last few hours, Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham took control of Al-Habit town and Aabdeen village, after attacking two checkpoints affiliated with Ahrar Al-Sham Movement at the outskirts of both areas. Whereas, Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement managed to take control of the towns and villages of Sarmada, Kafruma, Frekya, Al-Maghara, Marzaf, Shnan, Benneen, Iblin, Kadoura, Ma’rbleet, Rwiha, and Deir Senbol. The SOHR published yesterday that tensions surfaced against the backdrop of opening fire on a demonstration in which the Syrian Revolution banner was raised in Al-Saha Square in Idlib city, causing the injury of 3 persons at least. The protestors and the residents of the area accused fighters of Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham of opening fire on the demonstration; one day after unknown persons had raised black banners that read “there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger”. Local sources confirmed that banners were raised in the public squares and that some accused Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham of raising such banners as a reaction to raising the Syrian revolution banner. Violent clashes followed such tensions between Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham and Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic Movement.