Extremists Struggle to Reinforce Power in Northern Syria during Ceasefire

An influential Syrian rebel group has been blamed for taking undue benefit of an internationally orchestrated armistice in northern Syria for carrying out a series of arrests against civilians.
An extremist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, controlling around two-thirds of the Idlib province, regards former al-Qaeda-associated fighters within their ranks, has taken into custody 184 people since the start of September.
An UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that among those jailed are activists who had chastised the group, as well as evangelist and aid workers. The observatory commented that the group had also killed five civilians during raids and also opened fire on demonstrators. There has been a steep rise of violence by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group in northern Syria.
The repression of the group began two weeks before Russia and Turkey reached an armistice pact.
Turkey, which supports a number of rebel groups in Idlib, carried out comprehensive diplomacy talks to avert another wave of refugees to its border.
A part of the deal, Ankara devoted to jointly provide patrolling services to a buffer zone with Russia. The agreement has largely been enforced but Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has sent contradictory messages on whether they would totally adhere to the deal.
Even though the deal between Russia and Turkey might have brought some relief, sense of stability and security for the residents of Idlib; however, further reports from the watchdog reveals that the
suppression had weakened the state of strength and security which was inculcated through the pact.
The arrest of the civilians comes at a time as the group’s authority was getting undermined. Ankara desires to bolster more moderate groups who can act as a bastion against extremists; however, to date, open conflicts need to be avoided.
However, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s decision to strengthen its power in Idlib so that it can act precisely against the local spies or outside powers who want to bring an end to the armed coup. The arrest of the civilians shows that the extremist groups still have some power with them.


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