A security commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, was killed during the February 3 US raid that ended with the death of ISIS top leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.
The commander, Abu Sateef Soran, was shot and killed by US special forces after approaching the raid site near the town of Atimah, which is located on the border with Turkey, along with his superior Abu Imad al-Halabi who was only wounded.
Abu Sateed, who is responsible for security studies in refugee camps near Atimah, didn’t engage US special forces. He only approached the raid site to figure out what was going on.
Al-Qurashi was hiding along with his family in an apartment building located less than 200 meters away from a key checkpoint of HTS security forces.
HTS militants didn’t engage US special forces despite the attack on Abu Sateef and al-Halabi. The terrorist group, who possesses heavy anti-aircraft guns and MANPADs [man-portable air-defense systems], didn’t even attempt to target US military helicopters that supported the raid.
Six children and four women were killed in the US raid on al-Qurashi hideout. Despite this, HTS, a self-proclaimed Jihadi movement, didn’t condemn the attack or even comment on it.
HTS’ cold reaction to the deadly raid led to a backlash from radical and moderate opposition supporter in Greater Idlib. Some even questioned the loyalty of HTS leadership and accused them of aiding and facilitating that the raid and other US military operations in Greater Idlib.
It’s worth mentioning that HTS was first established in 2012 as ISIS main branch in Syria. Back then, it was known as the al-Nusra Front.
Abu Sateef is the first personnal of HTS to be killed by the US in more than three years. In fact, all recent US operations in Greater Idlib targeted foes of HTS. The US halted its operations against HTS around the same time the mainstream media began a campaign to whitewash the terrorist group and its leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani.