Ahrar al-Sham confirms that it will fight HTS in Idlib and Hama
Idlib - SMART
On Tuesday, the Ahrar al-Sham Islamist Movement confirmed that it will fight the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the governorates of Idlib and Hama in Northern and Central Syria, calling on Ahrar al-Sham fighters to be ready.
The Ahrar al-Sham is part of the National Liberatio Front (NLF) together with the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement.
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 HTS is the main rival of the NLF in Northern Syria.
In a voice recording, Jaber Ali Basha, the Ahrar al-Sham general commander, warned the HTS against entering their areas in Ariha, Maarrat al-Nu'man, the al-Zawiya mountainous area in Idlib, and the al-Ghab Plain in Hama. Basha confirmed that the Ahrar al-Sham is ready to defend its areas against the HTS.
Basha also said that they prefer death over living under the command of the HTS, adding, "We were born free and we will remain free."
Earlier on Tuesday, the HTS gained control of the villages of Tarmala, Abdeen, and Safouhen, southern Idlib, following clashes with the NLF. The HTS gained control of the village of al-'Ankawi in the al-Ghab Plain following clashes with the Ahrar al-Sham.
Days ago, a dispute emerged between the HTS and NLF on the background of the killing of four HTS fighters by NLF fighters in the village of Tal 'Ada in Idlib. After the incident, the factions reached an agreement to settle the dispute; however, the HTS attacked NLF outposts in western Aleppo, accusing the NLF of violating the agreement.