On May 10, Hussain al-Shami, a security commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), told the HTS-linked news network Iba’a that HTS had captured three intelligence cells of the Syrian Military Intelligence and the Russian intelligence after tracking them for months.
Al-Shami said that three cells, led by women, carried out several IED attacks against the militants in Idlib governorate. The HTS commander added that the cells had been planning to assassinate and abduct several prominent military and civilian figures in the governorate. According to al-Shami, the Syrian and Russian intelligence allegedly used these well-organized cells to provoke conflicts among armed groups in Idlib governorate.
A wave of assassinations hit Idlib governorate in the period between April 26 and 30. Later on May 3 a second wave began and it is still ongoing. According to Iba’a, an IED hit a vehicle of Jaysh al-Ahrar in southern Idlib injuring several fighters on May 10.
More than 30 militants and civilians have been killed in these assassinations since late April, according to Syrian opposition sources. Local observers believe that HTS attempts to counter such cells are doomed to fail because the group’s security forces are limited in their efforts because of constant inter-militant tensions.