On Wednesday, leader of Jaysh al-Ahrar, Abu Saleh Tahan, survived an assassination attempt in the western Aleppo countryside, according to Syrian opposition sources.
Unknown gunmen opened fire on Tahan’s car near the al-Barfoum bridge checkpoint controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). However, Tahan was not injured.
Jaysh al-Ahrar was formed by defectors from the Ahrar al-Sham Movement and several Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups on December 11, 2016. On January 28, 2017 Jaysh al-Ahrar joined the al-Nusra Front and other armed groups and formed HTS.
However, back on September 13 Jaysh al-Ahrar defected from HTS after a major disagreement related to the so-called HTS leaks and the failed attacks in the northern Hama countryside. Back then, a joint committee with HTS was formed to solve problems that could appear as a result of the defection. However, HTS didn’t take the committee seriously, according to opposition activists.
Opposition activists believe that HTS was behind the assassination attempt, especially that HTS refused to return Jaysh al-Ahrar weapons and equipment to it lately.
From its side, an HTS official denied that HTS was behind the attack on Tahan, according to the HTS-linked news agency Iba’a. The official also stressed that HTS will investigate the attack, and punish the ones responsible for it.
While there is a good chance that HTS was behind the attack, there is also a chance that Turkish Intelligence planned it. The Turks might see such attacks as an easy way to increase the pressure on HTS, and weaken its public support in Syria.