File image. HTS militants in Syria’s Idlib governorate. (Getty images).
Over the years, infighting between various militant groups inside the Turkish-occupied territory of Syria has become the norm, but now fights between several groups have intensified.
The assassination of Syrian activist Abu Ghanoum and his wife by unknown gunmen in al-Bab on 7 October has flared up tensions once again in the embattled region of Idlib.
Ghanoum was a pro-militant media activist who criticized Turkish-backed militas and Turkey’s involvement itself.
The news of his death led to infighting between the Sultan Suleyman Shah and al-Hamza Divisions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against Jabhat al-Shamiyah.
Social media users posted videos on 11 October, showing Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militants moving in large convoys toward Afrin in Syria’s northwest.
Yesterday, #HTS sent large convoys towards areas of clashes in Northwestern Syria (Afrin). SNA's 3rd Corps was then deployed to prevent HTS from entering the area but it was unable to hold off the Idlib-based group. pic.twitter.com/eUZf280AdO
— MrRevinsky (@Kyruer) October 12, 2022
While it is unclear how many people have been killed, reports on social media suggest that around 10 militants died due to armed clashes, as well as several civilians.
Further videos show the destruction of several armed pickups and military-grade equipment as HTS moved closer to Afrin, leading to the retreat of Jaysh al-Islam.
Recent reports also revealed the deployment of tanks and IEDs according to local sources.
Casualties due to inter-rebel conflicts in Syria’s occupied regions are estimated anywhere between 5,641 to 6,991 people.
The Turkish army and their backed militants occupy 8,835 square kilometers in Syria. Turkey has set its goal of achieving a 30-kilometer-long “safe zone” on its southern border with neighboring Syria, to curb the “threat” of Kurdish separatists, according to previous government statements.
Meanwhile, Ankara and Moscow brokered a ceasefire deal to avoid a significant military escalation in Idlib and allow Syrian troops to be withdrawn for a large-scale offensive against pockets of the Islamic State in Syria’s vast desert region.
“The goal of the military operation is to secure certain axes in the Badia, such as the Jabal al-Amour area in Homs countryside, where ISIS is active. It also aims to secure the Raqqa-Rusafa axis. Over the past weeks, ISIS has intensified its activities against the regime forces around the vicinity of the Tabqa airport in the countryside of Raqqa. But given the complex geographical nature of these areas, all ISIS operations recently consisted of booby-traps and ambushes, making it difficult for the regime to dodge them,” Zain al-Abidin al-Akeidi, a journalist from the Deir Ezzor, told Al-Monitor.