The Russian authorities have announced that members of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) extremist militant group are storing various “types of weapons at two refugee camps in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, amid reports that the extremists are also planning to stage false-flag attacks against civilians,” according to Press TV.
Oleg Yegorov, deputy director of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, has indicated that “ he has received reports about deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Harim and Salkim refugee camps in Idlib province.”
“According to the available information, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants have created weapons depots at both camps,” he added.
HTS is the most relevant armed group in Idlib province, which remains outside the control of the Syrian authorities.
According to RT Arabic, various armed factions operate in Idlib with the support of Turkey, which also deployed its military in the province.
“The militants’ actions pose a direct threat to the lives of refugees and are another example of how terrorists use civilians as a human shield,” Yegorov stressed.
Meanwhile, military sources in the Syrian National Army (SNA) revealed details of a meeting attended by officials from Turkey on 3 November to expel Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its affiliated apparatus from the Afrin District.
They also discussed dissolving the minor factions and integrating them into the components of the three SNA corps.
Regarding security, the source spoke of adopting a new approach to security management of the region by removing all the military faction’s checkpoints inside the cities and handing them over to the military police for control.
On the other hand, several prisoners belonging to HTS, the former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, were released in exchange for being sent to fight alongside the Ukrainian army against Russia, according to a report from Sputnik Arabic on 7 April.
Following their release, the militants were allegedly brought to the Syrian-Turkish border, where they entered Turkish territory and transferred to Ukraine.
HTS militants arrived in Ukraine via Turkey on 8 March, with a reported 450 militants making up the first wave.