Armed faction in Syria’s Afrin shows readiness to work with HTS, defections take place

ALEPPO COUNTRYSIDE, Syria (North Press) – On Wednesday, a Turkish-backed armed faction in the Turkish-controlled region of Afrin, northwest Syria, issued a statement in which it announced its defection.

The Al-Mu’atazz Billah Brigade faction, which is affiliated with the Sultan Suleiman Shah faction, said that it defected from the Brigade after statements by its leader, Muhammad al-Jassem, known as “Abu Amsha”, in which he announced his readiness to work with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS-formerly al-Nusra Front) in the Idlib region and fight alongside it.  

“We were surprised and saddened by what the commander of the Sultan Suleiman Shah Brigade, Muhammad al-Jassem Abu Amsha issued regarding the relationship with HTS, which is on the terrorist lists,” Abu Zaid Qastoun, the commander of the al-Mu’atazz Billah Brigade, said.

“Abu Amsha expressed his willingness to reach an understanding with the HTS, merge with it and fight alongside it, disregarding the HTS criminal history against us when we were in the countryside of Hama at the beginning of its establishment,” he added.  

Muhammad al-Jassem and his faction are known for widespread violations in northern Syria, especially in the Afrin region, including kidnapping, rape and seizure of property.  

Their violations were not limited to the local population, but also affected Turkey’s loyalists and the wives of leaders within Abu Amsha’s faction.

In an interview with the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper yesterday, on Tuesday, Abu Amsha announced his support for merging with the HTS and working with it against the “Syrian regime” with the aim of uniting the opposition militarily and politically.  

Reporting by Farouq Hamo