On May 2, a prominent commander of the Turkish-backed Sham Corps, known as Haj Talib al-Khatib, survived an assassination attempt in the southeastern Idlib countryside.
According to opposition sources, assailants riding a motorcycle targeted al-Khatib’s pick-up on a road linking the towns of al-Nerab and Sarmin. Al-Khatib survived the attack, but he sustained inures in his legs.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, yet. However, many activists said al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) was likely behind it.
In the last few weeks, tensions mounted between HTS and the Sham Corps, which is known to be Turkey’s number one proxy group in Greater Idlib. The group supported Turkish forces’ attempts to reopen the Lattakia-Aleppo highway – the M4. This has apparently provoked HTS that’s working to keep the highway blocked.
HTS, which has been engaged in clashes with Turkish forces to prevent them from reopening the M4, will not likely hesitate to target those working for Ankara in Idlib.
If HTS was indeed behind the attempt on al-Khatib’s life, the Sham Corps will likely respond. This could lead to a serious confrontation between HTS, which is still dominating Greater Idlib, and Turkey’s proxies there.