On August 12, the Turkish military kicked off a combing operation in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, according to Syrian opposition sources.
A fairly large force of the Turkish Armed Forces was reportedly deployed in the outskirts of the town of Atimah which is located in the northern part of Greater Idlib right on the border line with Turkey.
Opposition sources said that the force would comb the border line in search of smuggling tunnels between Greater Idlib and Turkish territory. The Turkish Ministry of Defense is yet to announce the operation.
— MegaNews27 (@MegaNews27) August 12, 2021
Atimah is tightly controlled by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib. The terrorist group is reportedly responsible for smuggling contrabands, goods and people from and to Turkey.
Smuggling tunnels run by HTS and its affiliates are also used by Syrian and foreign terrorists to enter, or leave Greater Idlib.
A report published by the pro-opposition Orient News in 2020 revealed that HTS is making as much as $300,000 per month from smuggling people to Turkey. According to the report, the group’s main smuggling routes are located in the border towns of Haram, Darkush and al-Alani.
Turkey continues to support HTS, despite the group’s terrorist and criminal activities. Ankara’s effort to secure its border with Syria will not likely succeed as long as the group is in control of Greater Idlib.
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