Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), the most powerful jihadist organization in Idlib province, has finally issued a statement addressing the agreement reached between Turkey and Russia last month. HTS vows to continue waging jihad, and warns that it doesn’t trust Russia’s “intentions,” but does not directly repudiate the Sochi accord.
Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has cut a deal with Bashar al-Assad’s regime to exchange thousands of residents in Kefraya and al-Fouah, two predominately Shiite towns in the northern province of Idlib, for 1,500 prisoners held in Assad’s prisons.
The Islamic State has targeted key jihadist and Islamist leaders in Idlib province in recent weeks. The so-called caliphate’s assassination campaign has focused on prominent figures in Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), as well as other groups.
Hay’at Tahrir al Sham has released two videos and a short statement claiming that its men downed a Russian warplane. The Russian defense ministry confirmed that the jet was lost after it was struck by a “a portable anti-aircraft missile system.”
Qatar recently secured the release of Qatari hostages, including members of the royal family. But its diplomatic victory was marred by reports that a multi-million dollar ransom was paid to a US-designated terrorist group and an al Qaeda-linked joint venture in Syria.