On September 30, security forces of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, arrested three children for smuggling cigarettes from the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin to the region of Greater Idlib.
The three children who attempted to smuggle a few packs of cigarettes to Greater Idlib, where HTS bans smoking, were reportedly tortured by the terrorist group’s militants.
HTS militants went one to share a photo of the three children without blurring their faces, likely to humiliate them and intimidate people in Greater Idlib. The children appeared to be terrified and in a state of shock.
HTS arrested little boys who were smuggling cigarettes from Afrin to Free Idlib (where terrorist organization HTS has forbidden smoking) to help support their families, terrifying and humiliating them. pic.twitter.com/Es6AkturvM
— Lindsey Snell (@LindseySnell) September 30, 2021
Wanted terrorist Abu Mohamad al-Julani, leader of HTS, continues to rule over Greater Idlib despite the presence of more than 60 Turkish military position in the region.
HTS says that cigarettes trade is banned in Greater Idlib in accordance with Islamic laws. However, the terrorist group’s leaders maintain a monopoly over the trafficking of cigarettes in the region, according to opposition sources. The group’s low-level commanders and militants also receive bribes from small-time cigarettes traffickers.
Many children in Greater Idlib smuggle and sell cigarettes in order to help feed themselves and their families. The economic situation in the region is catastrophic. HTS maintains a monopoly over public services as well as legal and illegal trade.
Despite the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Greater Idlib and al-Julani’s iron fest, some in the West continue to promote HTS as a reformed, moderated group.
Russia, which recently failed to reach an understanding with Turkey on the future of Greater Idlib, appears to be fed up with HTS rule over the region. Russian forces may soon back a new military operation by the Syrian Arab Army to liberate what’s left of the region from the terrorist group.
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