HTS and representatives from Atarib, Aleppo reach agreement
Aleppo - SMART
On Sunday, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and representatives and fighters from the city of Atarib in western Aleppo, Northern Syria, reached an agreement that included handing the city over to the HTS.
The HTS is an Islamist opposition faction previously known as the al-Nusra Front, consisting of fighting groups including the Haqq Brigade, Jabhat Ansar al-Din, and Jaysh al-Sunnah.
The agreement includes the dissolution of the al-Sham Rebels and Bayariq al-Islam factions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Atarib, while allowing the fighters on the frontline with the Syrian government forces to keep their weapons. The HTS pledged not to prosecute the fighters of the two factions and to transfer personal and criminal cases to a judicial court.
The agreement also gives the HTS responsibility for Atarib's security and military operations, while the Salvation Government will be responsible for the city's services, finance, and judicial procedures.
The HTS banned fighters and commanders from the Euphrates Shield and the Olive Branch operation areas from entering the city.
The HTS is expected to control the military checkpoints at the city's entrances later on Sunday, and to lift the siege it imposed on the city and its residents.
The negotiations between the HTS and Atarib's dignitaries were held a day earlier to discuss the fate of the city, coinciding with an HTS bombing that injured three civilians from the city.
The agreement came after the HTS defeated the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, which is part of the National Liberation Front of the FSA, and gained control of most of the western Aleppo countryside. The HTS defeated the al-Zenki Movement after clashes that lasted for days and spread to the Idlib governorate and western Hama countryside, killing and injuring members on both sides and civilians.
Atarib was one of the main cities of western Aleppo to participate in the revolution against the Syrian government and the HTS. The HTS has attempted to infiltrate the city several times, causing the people of Atarib to demonstrate against it, driving the faction out of the city. The Syrian government forces and Russia targeted the city with bombings, killing and injuring dozens of civilians.