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DECEMBER 2022

HTS Attack Turkish-Backed Militants Near Main Frontline In Syria’s Greater Idlib

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HTS Attack Turkish-Backed Militants Near Main Frontline In Syria’s Greater Idlib

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On September 29, heavy clashes broke out between al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Turkish-Backed Sham Legion right on the frontline with the government-held town of Saraqib in the southern part of Syria’s Greater Idlib region.

The clashes reportedly started when militants of HTS attacked several posts of the Sham Legion in the outskirts of Saraqib in order to expel the faction from the frontline.

The Sham Legion is one of the largest factions of the so-called National Front for Liberation, Turkey’s main proxy in Greater Idlib.

During the clashes, a militant of the Sham Legion was wounded. Eventually, HTS militants forced the faction to withdrew and imposed control of a 400-meter strip of the frontline with Saraqib. The attack cemented HTS control over the key frontline.

Syrian opposition activists speculated that the unprovoked attack on the Sham Legion was a part of HTS ongoing preparations to open a trade crossing with government-held areas.

The group, which is the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib, began work to open the crossing near Saraqib last week. Dirt barriers have been already removed from the main road leading to the town. Currently, work to demine the nearby frontline is underway.

The attack on the Sham Legion frontline posts demonstrates the growing influence and power of HTS. The Turkish-backed faction has been supporting the terrorist group against Syrian government forces for years. This was not enough however to spare it the wrath of the group, which is constantly trying to tighten its grip on Greater Idlib.

Turkey, who maintains a large force and dozens of positions in Greater Idlib, have repeatedly allowed HTS to harass and attack its own proxies in the region.

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