Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has postponed a plan to open a crossing with the government-held area after a backlash from opposition supporters and hardliners in Greater Idlib.
HTS’ Salvation Government planned to open the crossing near the government-held town of Saraqib in southeast Idlib on April 18 morning. The plan to open the Saraqib crossing was met with a backlash from many in Greater Idlib. They opposed HTS’ idea for different reasons.
Imad Al-Din Mujahid, HTS’ public relations director, claimed that the opening of the Saraqib crossing could ease the recession in Greater Idlib and benefit the locals there.
“Many merchants asked to open the commercial crossing through the Sarmin-Saraqib area,” Mujahid said, adding “the large population bloc in Idlib governorate does not live on an island cut off from the means of life and its needs.”
While some opposition activists saw the crossing as a recognition of the Damascus government, hardliners saw it as a betrayal of dozens of militants who were killed in the Saraqib battle.
HTS’ plan was also rejected by some local medical organizations, which claimed that the crossing could facilitate the spread of novel coronavirus. At least 38 COVID-19 cases were reported in government-held area as of April 18.
The opponents of the crossing released many statements smearing HTS and even calling for a sit-in near Saraqib. In response, the terrorist group placed its forces in the area on high-alert.
HTS’ plan to open the crossing has damaged the terrorist group’s public image among Greater Idlib hardliners. Aside from this, the group could face financial difficulties, if it fails to turn this plan into reality.