On August 31, Turkey designated the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syriaб Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)б as a terrorist organization under a presidential decision, according to the Reuters news agency. The original name of the group “al-Nusra Front” was placed on the Turkish terror list several year ago.
Last month, the U.S. made a similar move and added “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham” as an alternate name for the al-Nusra Front on its list of terrorist groups. The radical group adopted the new name after merging with several other armed groups in 2017.
HTS is now the most influential force in the opposition-held areas in northern Syria. According to a recent report by NBC News, the radical group has up to 11,000 well-trained fighters, most of whom are stationed in the northwestern governorate of Idlib.
The Turkish decision comes ahead of an expected military operation of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies against HTS. This worries HTS’ supporters in northern Syria, who fear that the Turkish government is abandoning the radical group.