A former commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has confirmed that the group leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani met with Jonathan Powell, a representative of the British Secret Intelligence Service MI6.
The Russian TASS news agency revealed the meeting in a report on May 31. The agency cited a diplomatic source in Moscow.
A day later, former HTS commander Saleh al-Hamwi, commonly known as “As al-Seera fi al-Sham,” confirmed TASS report in a post on his Telegram channel.
The commander was among the very first founders of the al-Nusra Front along with al-Julani, who later rebranded the group as HTS. In 2015, al-Hamwi was expelled from the group by the al-Julani. Nevertheless, he maintained contact with many of the group’s senior officials.
According to al-Hamwi, the meeting was held four years ago. A commander of HTS known as Hussam al-Shafi, “Abu A’asha,” arranged the meeting.
“A Russian news outlet confirms, and the British government does not comment, which is an acknowledgment,” al-Hamwi said on Telegram. “I revealed the meeting four years ago.”
The meeting was reportedly aimed at the establishing of contact with international terrorist groups active in Syria. During the meeting, Powell suggested that al-Julani should build close cooperation with European countries and the US.
Powell also recommended that al-Julani should give an interview to an American reporter, which apparently led to the terrorist recent interview with the Public Broadcasting Service’s Frontline series.
Today, HTS, which is supported by Turkey, is the de-facto ruler of the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib. Al-Julani is supposedly wanted by the US. Yet, the attempts to whitewash him and his group are picking momentum in the West.
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