Jaysh al-Ahrar, a part of the National Front for Liberation (NFL) coalition, has handed over Taftanaz airbase in the eastern Idlib countryside to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Syrian opposition activists revealed on January 12.
According to the available information, this step was a part of a surrender agreement which the NFL accepted few days ago. The Turkish-backed group will also have to hand over all of its heavy weapons in Idlib to HTS soon.
Taftanaz was among the first airbases, which were captured by anti-government forces during the Syrian war. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al-Qaeda launched the attack on the strategic airbase on April 3, 2012. Within two days, the airbase fell into their hands. Dozens of Syrian service members, including pilots, were killed. Some of them were executed by the FSA.
Last year, Syrian opposition sources said that the airbase will be handed over to Turkey which will deploy troops and helicopters in it. However, this never happened.
Now with HTS in control of this important military position, the influence of Turkish-backed groups in the eastern Idlib countryside has officially ended.