In one of his fairly usual PR stunts, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani paid a visit to some of his injured militants in an unspecified hospital in Greater Idlib.
In several photos released by HTS on May 2, al-Julani can be seen meeting and greeting a number of his fighters who lost limbs or got paralyzed in recent battles with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies. The notorious terrorist was wearing white gloves, likely to protect himself from the novel COVID-19.
The visit was clearly meant to promote al-Julani as a leader of Greater Idlib. In the last few weeks, al-Julani received a backlash over a plan to open a crossing with government-held areas.
Earlier this week, HTS opened the crossing in western Aleppo, challenging some local protesters. The group’s security forces clashed with the protesters, killing a civilian and injuring many others.
The incident provoked a wave of protests in Greater Idlib. This forced HTS to suspend work in the crossing, at least for the time being
Al-Julani’s little PR stunt didn’t go too well. Many in Greater Idlib saw his visit as a provocation. As a result, a new wave of protests against HTS and al-Julani took place.
The recent events indicate that HTS’ popularity in Greater Idlib is declining. The terrorist group’s confrontation with the Turkish military also played a role in this.
With its popularity declining, HTS may resume operations against the SAA. The terrorist group could also move against opponents in Greater Idlib, similar to what happened over the last two years.
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