In an official statement, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS; formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) announced that it had banned the formation of any new militant groups in Idlib Province. HTS added that the decision was aimed at maintaining the unity among various groups in the province of Idlib.
The official statement forbade any group to form a faction under any name, asserting that “any individual or group that defect from any faction on the ground, including HTS, leaves without the weapons”. HTS seems to be seeking to maintain the current situation which ensures that it remains the strongest faction in Idlib.
No group of the Syrian Free Army (FSA) or the Ahrar al-Sham Movement has commented on the statement so far.
The statement shows the sieze of HTS ‘influence in the province. HTS has became the central force that runs the entire province. It has also started imposing its will on the entire opposition groups in the province. This HTS step HTS is similar to the ISIS behavior back in 2014. HTS is now taking the same approach.