On July 13, Anas al-Sheikh, a senior commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) security forces, told the HTS-linked news network Iba’a that the group managed to capture ISIS commander “Abu al-Bar’a al-Sahili” during a special operation in the town of Harem in northern Idlib countryside.
Only hours after his capture, al-Sahili was beheaded in a brutal way by HTS’ security forces. Al-Sheikh said that ISIS commander was executed in the same area where he beheaded a fighter of HTS last week. Al-Sahili is responsible for several attacks on the civilians and HTS fighters, according to al-Sheikh.
After the execution of al-Sahili, the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq reported that ISIS cells killed four fighters of HTS in hit and run attacks near the towns of Sarmin and Maarrat al-Nu’man. These attacks are likely a response to HTS, especially that many ISIS sympathizers in the governorate of Idlib vowed to avenge al-Sahili.
In the upcoming days, ISIS fighters will likely step up their operations against HTS in northern Syria. This may lead to a dangerous situation in Idlib similar to the one we saw in the governorate of Deir Ezzor before the rise of ISIS in 2014.