On December 11, al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) that controls much of Syria’s Greater Idlib arrested the senior commander of Ansar al-Islam.
Opposition sources said the top Ansar al-Islam member, known as Abu Abd al-Matin, was arrested by HTS’ security forces from his house in Idlib city.
The arrest was reportedly provoked by a recent prisoner swap deal between Ansar al-Islam and Syrian authorities. The terrorist group released an officer of the Syrian Border Guard, Lieutenant Hayan Abdel Karim Dalloul, who was captured in northern Lattakia two years ago. In return, Damascus released a jihadist who was charged with terrorism in 2008.
HTS was angered by the deal because Ansar al-Islam didn’t rise the HTS flag during the exchange, or mention it in its official statement. Al-Matin, who serves as the general military commander of Ansar al-Islam, was arrested in response to this. Ansar al-Islam is yet to comment on the issue.
Ansar al-Islam, originally based in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, formed its branch in southern Syria in 2014. The branch was established by three factions [the Osama bin Zaid Brigade, the Al Ezz bin Abdul Salam Brigade and the al-Adiyat Battalion]. In 2015, ist new branch in the northwestern region of Greater Idlib was formed.
Today, Ansar al-Islam is a part of the HTS-led al-Fateh al-Mubin Operations Room. Apparently, this did not stop HTS from taking action against the group when it felt “disrespected.”
HTS has been working to tighten its grip on Greater Idlib for the last two years. The group does not tolerate any action against its interests or influence in the region, even when it comes from its close allies.
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