On Thursday, unknown militants assassinated a former commander of Ahrar al-Sham Hammoud al-Rahal, Abu Malik, in front of his house in Maarat Souriyeen town in the eastern Idlib countryside.
Abu Malik had defected from Ahrar al-Sham three days ago and joined HTS. Opposition sources claimed that Abu Malik joined HTS after they had threatened to kill a number of his fighters imprisoned by HTS if he did not defect from Ahrar al-Sham. However, these allegations have not yet been confirmed.
So far HTS and Ahrar al-Sham didn’t accuse any party of being behind the assassination. However the HTS-linked News Agency Abaa claimed that Abu Malik’s relatives attacked the homes of Al-Omar family – supporters of HTS – in the village of Marshmarin in southern Idlib countryside.
Abu Malik’s relatives accused Al-Omar family of being behind the assassination. The Abu Malik family members burned 10 houses and several cars that belongs to civilians from Al-Omar family and no one intervened to stop the assault.
HTS has agreed with the Abu Malik’s family to investigate the crime and prosecute the suspects in its Sharia courts. The assassination of Abu Malik shows how HTS is trying to exploit chaos and lawlessness in Idlib in order to impose itself as the savior of Idlib province.