Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is reportedly planning to launch a full-scale attack on the town of Arab Said, which has become a stronghold of the Fa Ithbatu Operation Room.
According to opposition sources, HTS amassed a large strike force near Arab Said, which is located west of Idlib city. The terrorist group even deployed heavy equipment, including a T-90 battle tank that was captured from government forces earlier this year.
دبابات هيئة تحرير الشام في الاقتحام على منطقة “عرب سعيد” غرب إدلب حيث تمركز تنظيم حراس الدين
خيار الهيئة هو قمع هذا “التمرد” بالقوة، قادة حراس الدين في خيارات صعبة لأنهم يعتقدون أن مصيرهم هذه المرة في حال هزموا سيكون سجون الجولاني وصفقاته القادمة مع الدول pic.twitter.com/KR9srZNA4N
— أحمد أبازيد (@abazeid89) June 24, 2020
A day earlier, militants from Fa Ithbatu took control of Arab Said. Several small attacks were launched from the town at HTS checkpoints and positions around Idlib city.
HTS is now shelling Arab Said. Moreover, heavy clashes are taking place in the town’s outskirt. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that civilians are now fleeing the region as a large battle appears to be nearing.
— اليمان (@hasan1020k) June 24, 2020
Fa Ithbatu was established earlier this month by groups hostile to HTS, like Horas al-Din, as well as defectors from the group itself.
HTS apparently saw the new operations room as a threat to its regime in Greater Idlib. Senior leaders of the operations room, Abu Salah al-Uzbeki and Abu Malek al-Tali, were quickly arrested by HTS security forces. This step provoked the current conflict.
The conflict with Fa Ithabtu is the biggest internal challenge to HTS’ grip over Greater Idlib since the start of 2020. The terrorist group will likely lose much of its power and influence if it fails to impose its will on Fa Ithbatu.