Fierce clashes continued in the countryside of Idlib province between Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Ahrar al-Sham.
On Wednesday, Ahrar al-Sham had entered villages controlled by HTS, deployed ckeckpoints and arrested members of HTS fighter. Ahrar Al-Sham also raised the flag of the Syrian opposition on the positions it captured. According to local sources, Ahrar al-Sham used heavy weapons, and managed to enter the villages of Al-Dana, Sarmada, Harim, Slqeen, Al-Mastumah, Saraqib, Habeet and Al-Atareb.
However, HTS soon managed to launch a counter-attack and to recapture Al-Mastuma, Al-Dana, Sarmada, Harim and Habeet. Ahrar al-Sham fighters also agreed to hand over the towns of Selqeen and Saraqib to HTS along with their heavy weapons. Moreover, a number of Ahrar al-Sham fighters defected and joined the HTS.
Al-Atareb town is still under the control of Ahrar Al-Sham and is expected to be recaptured by HTS soon. Bab al-Hawa border crossing on the Syrian-Turkish border is witnessing fierce clashes, but it’s not believed that HTS intends to capture it.
Unconfirmed reports are circulating that a large number of Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters is going to deploy to Idlib from Turkish territory in order to fight HTS.
HTS had handed over Kefr Nabol town in the countryside of Idlib to its allies in the FSA to spare it the battles, but Ahrar al-Sham entered the town after the withdrawal of HTS, by this HTS is also expected to attack the town soon as well. Moreover, HTS repelled an attempt to attack by Soqour al-Sham – allies of Ahrar Al-Sham – on HTS positions in the vicinity of Al-Zawiya mountain, and damaged a tank of Soqour al-Sham.
Ahrar al-Sham didn’t issue any official statement about its attack yet, but HTS issued a statement holding Ahrar al-Sham the responsibility for the infighting. HTS also denied accusations by the Syrian Islamic Council that it was the cause of the problem. According to opposition sources, a number of civilians were killed and wounded. The number of Ahrar al-Sham and HTS fighters who were killed as a result of the clashes is still unknown, but the two sides captured dozens of militants.