On February 24, the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) launched a new attack on positions of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the northeastern Idlbi countryside. Syrian opposition sources claimed that the SLF had captured the villages and towns of Maarrat Misrin, Hamdan, Hizano, Armanaz and Kuli.
Only hours later, the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a reported that HTS fighters had been able to recapture the village of Hizano from the SLF. The source added that HTS fighters had captured a Shilka vehicle and six pickup trucks of the SLF in the village.
HTS fighters also repelled a similar attack by the SLF on their positions around the strategic town of Atme on the Syrian-Turkish border, in the northeastern Idlib countryside, according to Iba’a.
Meanwhile, SLF leader Hassan Sufan released a video message in which it called on Turkish-backed Faylaq al-Sham and all other Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups in northern Syria to support the SLF battle against HTS. The SLF’s leader also called on local activists and civilians in Idlib governorate to organize protests against HTS.
Faylaq al-Sham and many other US and Turkish-backed FSA groups have not yet engaged in the ongoing battle between the SLF and HTS in northern Syria. These groups will likely remain neutral in order to maintain their good relations with their backers and HTS on the same time.
According to experts, Sufan’s message confirms that the SLF’s attack is aimed at eliminating HTS in northern Syria, not only countering its influence. The message was also viewed as a request for help because HTS had been able to launch very successfully attacks against the SLF, which had made only limited gains.