On April 15, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) launched a large-scale military operation against the Syrian Liberation Front (SLF) in the southern part of Idlib province capturing the towns of Murak and Khan Shaykhun, according to the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a.
The news agency also reported that HTS fighters had imposed their control of the villages of Rakaya Sijneh, Maarzita, Jbala, Maar Tamater, Kafr Ein, Sheikh Mustafa, Madaya, Kafrsajna, Hish, Sahyan, Kafr Mazda, Ameriyeh and Moqa around Murak and Khan Shaykhun.
The SLF vowed to repel HTS attack in an official statement and said that it will not allow “power hungry” sides to control the “revolution or its recourse.”
Syrian opposition sources reported that HTS had been planning this attack for a long time. The main goal of the HTS attack was to capture the commercial crossing south of the town of Murak, according to the sources.
The city of Maarrat al-Nu’man, north of Khan Kaykhun, and few villages around are now considered the last positions of the SLF in southern Idlib. HTS will likely launch a second phase of its military operation to capture Maarrat al-Nu’man within the upcoming days.
The so-called “war of abolition” erupted between HTS and the SLF on February 19. Since then, more than 350 fighters of both groups along with 25 civilians had been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).