On July 25, security forces of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) launched a large-scale security operation in the town of Tal Adeh in northern Idlib.
HTS’ security forces stormed the town in the afternoon. Heavy clashes broke out between the group’s militants and the wanted persons. The clashes with use of heavy weapons by HTS lasted for a few hours.
Officials in HTS claimed that the group’s forces had captured a gang accused of “corruption” and “theft” without providing any additional information.
However, opposition sources revealed that HTS’ operation had targeted members of al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din. The group’s forces clashed with two groups, one led by Qutaiba al-Barsha and the other by Abu Yahya al-Jazaery.
Al-Barsha is a former commander of Horas al-Din, while al-Jazaery is a current senior leader of the group. According to the sources, al-Jazaery is wanted by the U.S.-led coalition. Opposition sources confirmed that both men were captured by HTS.
According to the HTS claims, two of the wanted personnel were killed in the clashes. Another two blew themselves up with explosive belts. A civilian, identified as Taha Rifat al-Taha, was also killed by HTS’ forces.
A serious confrontation between HTS and Horas al-Din’s Fa Ithbatu Operations Room took place in western Idlib last month. The confrontation ended by an agreement limiting the influence of Hora al-Din in the Greater Idlib region.
The arrest of al-Barsha and al-Jazaery could led to a another confrontation between HTS and Horas al-Din. HTS, which step by step neutralized most of Horas assets over the past few months, will likely gain the upper hand.