Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is expanding its influence in the Turkish-occupied northern Syrian area of Afrin, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) warned in a statement released on September 17.
HTS is the de-facto ruler of the northwestern region of Greater Idlib which shares a 25 kilometers-long unofficial border line with Afrin.
Farhad Shami, head of the SDF Media Center, revealed in the group’s statement that commanders of HTS had visited the Yazidi town of Bosoufane as well as the districts of Jandaris and Sheikh Hadid in Afrin and met with the leaders of Turkish-backed groups ruling the area.
Furthermore, HTS terrorists established posts in Bosoufane and a number of others areas in southern and western Afrin. The terrorists use forged documents provided by the Turkish-backed al-Shmaiya Front to move in the area.
The terrorist group is also about to reach a deal with the Suleyman Shah Brigade, one of the largest Turkish-backed in northern Syria. The deal will allow the group expand its influence like never before in Jandaris and Sheikh Hadid.
“The deployment of militants from the terrorist-designated HTS in Afrin along with international reports confirming the involvement of other groups linked to Turkey [Ahrar al-Sharqiyah] in recruiting ISIS mercenaries, who fled from the battles in northern and eastern Syria, are all serious indications of how the occupied areas, especially Afrin, are being turned into a safe haven for extremist organizations and a starting point for plotting and carrying out terrorist acts on the Syrian and international arena,” Shami said in the statement.
HTS is clearly taking advantage of Turkish occupation to spread its influence over northwestern and northern Syria. Ankara is doing nothing whatsoever to stop the terrorist group.
Western efforts to whitewash HTS and its terrorist leader, Abu Mohamad al-Julani, ramped up this year. The group is being promoted as a reformed, acceptable version of al-Qaeda. Damascus and its allies are the last side standing against the terrorist group.
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