'Free Police' in Idlib
The U.S., France and Russia have concluded their preparations to launch a military operation against the opposition-held Syrian northwestern city of Idlib, which is the last remaining opposition stronghold on the border with Turkey.
In order to legitimize its attack, the west is planning to use the pretext of the former Jabhat al-Nusra group being part of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which is the largest opposition umbrella group in Idlib, which will threaten the 200,000 displaced who found their final refuge in Idlib, where close to two million civilians now live.
As any planned operation against Idlib would result in a large-scale humanitarian crisis, threatening the Euphrates Shield Operation, Ankara has been in touch with the opposition in Idlib and presented them with a set of recommendations in a bid to head off the approaching operation.
The recommendations forwarded to the Syrian opposition included the establishment of a civil administration in the city, and opening an office for the Syrian Interim Government from which it can operate.
This would strip any legitimacy from the planned international operation against Idlib, as all armed opposition members will withdraw and operate outside of the city center, while a police force similar to that established in the Euphrates Shield regions will operate in their place.
The recommendations also included handing over control of the Bab al-Hawa border gate, which is connected to Cilvegözü on the Turkish side, to a group approved by Turkey.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham was also asked to disband itself, and its fighters could join the ranks of other opposition group if they elected to do so.
After receiving Ankara’s recommendations, all representatives of the Syrian opposition held meetings in central Idlib, which was attended by civil society organizations, tribal heads and opinion leaders.
As the superior military power in the city, the HTS will determine the position with regards to this issue, and thus it announced that it accepts all of the recommendations except for the request to disband itself.
Jabhat al-Nusra, which will be used as a pretext for the West’s set-up operation, has stated that it had cut its ties to al-Qaeda in July 2016, and rebranded itself as “Hayat Fateh al-Sham” (HFS). The group has joined ranks with a large number of opposition factions after leaving Aleppo, as they established the “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (HTS), which it had joined after disbanding itself.
HTS is headed by former Ahrar al-Sham commander Abu Jabir, while HFS’s former leader Mohammed al-Jolani serves on its military council.
Police commander Shareef Qitaz, one of the founding members of the opposition-affiliated “Free Police” body in Idlib, has resumed his police duties despite sustaining injuries on the job that left him crippled.
“I will continue my work as long as the Assad regime continues to destroy,” said Qitaz, stressing that, despite all the hardships he’s facing, he will never sway from the path he embarked on to secure a better future for Syria.