On November 11, thousands of people took to the streets in the city center of the Turkish-occupied northern Syrian area of Afrin to protest against al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The protesters, some of whom marched to Afrin all the way from Azaz and other nearby towns, called on HTS to withdraw from Afrin and stop its interference in Turkish-occupied areas in the northern countryside of Aleppo. The protesters chanted against the terrorist group and its leader Abu Mohamad al-Julani.
HTS entered Afrin on October 11 under the pretext of supporting its Turkish-backed allies, the al-Hamzah Division and the Suleyman Shah Division, against the 3rd Corps, which is also backed by Turkey.
On October 15, an agreement with the 3rd Corps solidified HTS control over the Kurdish-majority area. After a series of protests, the terrorist group withdrew some of its militants from Afrin on October 18, but kept its security forces to run the area.
The Turkish military has made some efforts to expel the terrorist group out from Afrin in a peaceful manner, but to no avail.
The new wave of protests was sparked by HTS attempts to intervene in the internal affairs of the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham Movement.
The leader of the radical movement Amer al-Sheikh, who is known to be very close to HTS, was sacked on November 9, and replaced with the more independent Youssef al-Hamwi.
The pro-HTS wing in Ahrar al-Sham rejected the new leader. In response, four large units that support al-Hamwi suspended their membership in the movement.
HTS dispatched a large force to Ahrar al-Sham main headquarters in the village of Trindah in Afrin to support its ally al-Sheikh on November 10. Clashes were reported around the headquarters, which is now besieged by the terrorist group. This move will likely lead to more escalation.
Turkish efforts to expel HTS from Afrin have clearly failed. The terrorist group’s presence in the area and its repeated attempts to impose its will on Turkish-backed factions continue to trigger militants and civilians there alike. This could eventually lead to a dangerous confrontation.
What the gentleman in the first video says is more: End to infighting; removal of factions as political agents, instead installation of a unified civil administration. No more checkpoints, no more security/patrols by militant groups. Fighting corruption and the corrupters.