On September 22, security forces of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nursa, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) arrested “Yasser al-Saleem,” a lawyer and a prominent opposition activist, along with another activist named “Abdul Hamid al-Bayoush” in the town of Kafr Nabl in southern Idlib, according to the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi.
The pro-opposition outlet said that al-Salem, who organized several anti-government protests in Kafr Nabl recently, was arrested because he raised a banner calling for the release for around 30 civilian hostages, who were abducted by ISIS fighters from eastern al-Suwayda more than a month ago.
Al-Salem was also accused of promoting the reconciliation process because he published a post on his Facebook page, in which he called for the return of displaced civilians to the towns of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya in eastern Idlib. The civilians were evacuated of these two towns after 3 years of siege under a deal with HTS.
The arrest of al-Salem once again shows the HTS influence in the governorate of Idlib. The radical group, which was once the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, will likely focus on eliminating its foes in the ranks of the Syrian opposition in the upcoming months using the fact that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has canceled its operation there.