Military commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the southern Aleppo countryside, Zubair al-Turkmani, told the Ibaa news network on October 27 that HTS fighters had shelled a gathering of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops near the town of Khan Tuman, which is located northwest of the city of Aleppo.
“We also detected a sniper of the Nusayri army [Jihadi term for SAA] on the same front and targeted him with an SPG-9 shell killing him and injuring others,” al-Turkmani told HTS-linked Ibaa.
Al-Turkmani did officially acknowledge that HTS is violating the Russian-Turkish deconfliction agreement and vowed to retaliate against any “movement” of the SAA in the area.
Earlier this month, HTS released a vague statement regarding its stand on the deconfliction agreement. In the statement, the radical group vowed to continue its war on the SAA, but at the same time it thanked Turkey for its efforts to find a peaceful solution.
The recent HTS attacks and al-Turkmani’s statement indicate that HTS is now closer to rejecting the deconfliction agreement than before. Syrian opposition activists had previously warned that the “radical wing” within the group, which includes foreign Jihadists, is working to sabotage the agreement, likely to guarantee its survival.