On July 21, Syrian opposition activists released several photos that show fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) looting the empty towns of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya in eastern Idlib. Around 7,000 civilians left the two towns during the last two days, under an evacuation agreement, which was reached earlier this week.
HTS and FSA fighters reportedly broke into the abandoned houses and shops and stole everything. Furthermore, all the cars and tractors, which remained in the two towns, were stolen by the fighters.
Over the course of the Syrian war, pro-opposition fighters have looted several areas after capturing it. The clearest example was on March 18, when Turkish-backed FSA fighters looted the northern city of Afrin in front of the Turkish military and members of the press.
On top of the looting, HTS is planning to settle hundreds of its foreign fighters and their families in al-Fu’ah and Kafriya, according to pro-HTS activists. Local sources even reported that HTS supporters want to rename the two towns in order to impose a permanent demographic change.
Moreover, the HTS-linked news network Iba’a said that a religious committee of HTS’ government destroyed all the Shiite symbols and banners inside the mosques and the houses of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya.
These events reveal the real nature of HTS, which entered Syria under the banner of al-Qaeda in early 2012 and received direct and indirect support from several regional and global powers.