The situation in Tal Adeh, where Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) launched a “security operation” on October 10, is still tense.
A large force of HTS stormed the town, which is located in northern Idlib, looking for wanted militants. Fierce clashes broke up when the militants fired back. Heavy weapons were used in the clashes.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least five security personnel of HTS were killed in the clashes.
HTS’ General Security claimed that 13 local militants affiliated with ISIS were killed and 18 others were captured in the operation. The gunmen were allegedly training ISIS members on sabotage in a camp near Tal Adeh.
Tal Adeh’s locals refuted these claims. In a statement, prominent figures from the town said HTS operation targeted a group of militants who recently defected from the group. The defectors were reportedly led by a local radical known as Qutaiba al-Barsha.
Al-Barsha is infamous for carrying out assassinations in Greater Idlib on behalf of HTS’ security forces. Some sources claimed that al-Barsha was among those killed in the operation.
In July, clashes were reported between HTS and al-Barsha’s gang in Tal Adeh. Back then, some sources claimed that al-Barsha was arrested by the group. This was later denied.
Tal Adeh’s operation is another example of how HTS is cracking down on its foes as well as its old allies to tighten its grip over greater Idlib.
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