Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ), one of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) main units, is witnessing a growing conflict, according to social media reports.
KTJ commander Sirozhiddin Mukhtarov was reportedly sacked by HTS’ leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani in a step aimed at subduing the unit’s fighters, most of whom are Uzbek and Kyrgyz.
Initially, Mukhtarov retained the position of spiritual mentor and chief adviser to the group. However, this changed when KTJ’s new commander Abdul Aziz Damlu brought in a new religious leader Akhlidin Novkatia from Turkey. The group’s new leadership then launched a campaign to weaken Mukhtarov’s influence in the group.
Known as Abu Saleh, Mukhtarov is reported responsible for the 2017 Saint Petersburg Metro bombing, which claimed the lives of 15 people.
After losing most of his influence within HTS, Mukhtarov begin working to create a new group in Syria’s Greater Idlib. He is reportedly working to recruit foreign terrorists who do not agree with the policies of al-Julani and other groups in Idlib.
Greater Idlib is now filled with terrorists resenting HTS’ al-Julani, who led them from a defeat to another over the last year. These terrorists will likely support Mukhtarov and any other radical leader who would attempt to challenge HTS authority.
The sacking of Mukhtarov is an example of how al-Julani is working to solidify its control within HTS. The infamous terrorist has been attacking anyone who would dare to challenge his position as the ultimate ruler of Idlib for years now. This created many new enemies of HTS.