On July 22, angry locals gathered around a number of Turkish military posts in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib to protest against what they called “ceasefire violations” by Syrian government forces.
The protesters, numbered in the hundreds, burned dozens of tires on the gates of Turkish posts and chanted against the ceasefire that was brokered by Russia and Turkey on March 5 of last year.
In the last few weeks, Syrian government forces stepped up their strikes on Greater Idlib, mainly on the al-Zawiya Mount in the southern part of the region. However, these strikes were only a response to the repeated violations of the ceasefire by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib, and its Turkish-backed allies.
Just a few hours before the protests, the HTS-led al-Fateh al-Mubeen Operations Room targeted a Syrian military post in southern Greater Idlib with an anti-tank guided missile. At least one service member was killed.
While the protesters ignored HTS’ key rule in destabilizing Greater Idlib, they demanded Turkey to put an end to government shelling by political or military means.
Turkey has been actively supporting HTS and other factions in Greater Idlib. Weapons supplied by Turkey were used to violate the ceasefire at least twice in the last few weeks. Ankara’s forces in the region are also acting as a “human shield” for HTS and its allies.
HTS rules Greater Idlib with an iron fist, to say the least. This explains why the locals opted to protest against Turkey instead of the terrorsit group.
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