Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de facto ruler of the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, will merge with the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL), a number of pro-opposition sources reported on March 4.
One of the source, the Istanbul-based Jusoor for Studies, claimed that HTS and the NFL are planning to form a military council with support from Turkey.
According to Jusoor director, Mohamad Sarmini, the military council will have up to 34 brigades and will be co-chaired by the following three commanders:
- Abu Hassan Halfaya, representing HTS.
- Capt. Abu al-Mundhir, representing the NFL’s Ahrar al-Sham Movement.
- Muhammad Horan Abu Usid representing the NFL’s Sham Legion.
Sarmini went on to claim that the military council will be under the subversion of HTS’ Salvation Government, which will establish a “Defense Ministry.”
“The political goal of the step is to withdraw a pressure card from Russia, which insists that the fight against terrorism [in Greater Idlib] should continue,” several outlets quoted Sarmini as saying.
Despite engaging in several conflicts over the last few years, HTS and the NFL have been actively coordinating against the Syrian military and its allies.
The proposed military council is clearly meant to provide a legitimate cover for the terrorist activities of HTS and other al-Qaeda factions in Greater Idlib. If true, the alleged plan will be the most recent in a series of attempts by the Turkey and the West to whitewash HTS.
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