Infamous Chechen leader Muslim Abu Walid al-Shishani has dissolved his group, Junud al-Sham, after refusing to “bend the knee” to Abu Mohamad al-Julani, leader of al-Qaeda’s Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Syrian sources reported on July 9.
Last month, HTS asked al-Shishani to join its ranks or leave the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib along with his militants.
According to 7al.net, al-Shishani and five of his commanders met with Abu Maria al-Qahtani, a senior commander of HTS, at Ansar al-Islam headquarters in Jisr al-Shughur on July 8 in a last ditch effort to find a solution. Nevertheless, al-Qahtani refused all the suggestions made by al-Shishani and insisted on HTS’ demands.
Al-Shishani’s final decision was to dissolve his group and withdrew his militants from northern Lattakia, where they have been fighting for several years. The leader and his militants are now preparing to leave Greater Idlib.
Junud al-Sham positions in northern Lattakia were handed over to HTS, which deployed large reinforcements in the region and monitored the withdrawal of al-Shishani and his militants.
In his last public comment on the issue, al-Shishani appeared to be surprised by HTS behavior. The leader and his group fought side by side with HTS for nearly eight years. He was never in conflict with al-Julani.
HTS’ move against al-Shishani is a part of the terrorist group’s ongoing work to tighten its grip over Greater Idlib. Al-Julani wants to turn the region into his own de-facto Caliphate.
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