In Focus | The security dimension of exerting pressure on Hurras al-Din
Methods and Aims
As part of its campaigns to dismantle the military factions in northern Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has relied on a combination of security and military methods with the aim of arresting the active faction leaders, disrupting communication between members and leadership communication and then moving to eliminate the faction by attacking its headquarters in the event of the faction was not dismantled during the security campaign.
HTS’s security campaigns may succeed in dismantling as in its campaign against the Thuwar al-Sham Brigades demonstrated. The military formation disintegrated after HTS arrested and detained the faction’s leaders for a long duration of time. On the other hand, the same strategy was unsuccessful in dismantling the large factions such as Hazm, Ahrar al-Sham and Nur al-Din al-Zinki movement which prompted HTS to launch focused military campaigns to dismantle these groups.
Since the cessation of major battles in March 2020, HTS has sought to subjugate the remaining jihadist factions to its vision. HTS is exploiting the current circumstances, as favorable conditions, to push Hurras al-Din formation and the independent figures close to the faction to withdraw from the arena, disintegrate, or acquiesce to HTS’s authority in the jihad file.
HTS has arrested several Hurras al-Din leaders since the July 25, 2020 such as Fadlallah al-Libi, the commander of the Sahel sector in Hurras al-Din, the military expert, Abu Yahya al-Jazaery, and the leader Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Makki,
To enhance the success its recent campaign, HTS appointed militant security leaders that oppose Hurras al-Din increasing the likelihood of orders being issued against those wanted and an increase in efforts to arrest them if they are alive or procure their bodies if deceased.
The development of events indicates that Huras al-Din has entered a state of latency and concealment following the escalation of the international coalition operations against its active leaders. Those who survived the campaign have hide in Turkestan party strongholds such as in the Jisr al-Shughour area and the surrounding towns close to the strategic hills of western Idlib.
At the same time, HTS has employed its two jurists to justify the campaign and its importance, and here different figures may perform this task, such as Abu Azzam al-Jazrawi, an HTS jurist, Dr. Mazhar al-Wais, the head of the High Monitoring Committee in HTS and the jurist Abu al-Harith al-Masri among other possible options.
The campaign has achieved most of its objectives, as Hurras al-Din has no actual presence on the ground in parallel with the escalation of direct targeting by the international coalition. In addition, several leaders in Hurras al-Din submitted requests previously to leave Syria. These various factors increase the internal divisions in the faction and result in the higher likelihood of internal conflicts that will dismantle the faction. Alternatively, these different factors mean the faction leaders will continue to hide or they will be more willing to submit to HTS’s demands rather than dismantle.
Unit of Religious Movement - Jusoor for Studies
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