HTS takes full control over Syria’s Afrin

AFRIN, Syria (North Press) – Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly al-Nusra Front) took on Thursday full control of the city of Afrin, north of Aleppo, following the withdrawal of Third Legion from the city toward Azaz city.

An exclusive source told North Press that HTS deployed numbers of its militants across all neighborhoods in Afrin.

The withdrawal of the Third Legion [a Turkish-backed Syrian opposition faction] from its headquarters in Afrin came after pressure posed by Hayat Thaeroon for Liberation to hand the city over to HTS, according to the source. 

Hayat Thaeroon for Liberation consists of several Turkish-backed factions, also known as the Syrian National Army (SNA), including Sultan Murad Division, Sham Legion, Sham Revolutionaries, Muntasir Billah Division, the First Legion, which consist of North Brigade, the Ninth Legion and 112 Brigade. 

On Thursday, HTS, with the support of some Turkish-backed SNA factions, had full control over al-Mahmoudiya neighborhood in the city of Afrin following clashes with SNA factions.

On Wednesday, HTS seized the two districts of Jindires and Mabatli in addition to the two villages of Kurzeleh and Basouta in Afrin countryside following fierce clashes with armed factions of the Turkish-backed SNA.

Afrin, a Kurdish city in the north of Aleppo, has been under the occupation of Turkey since March 2018 following a military operation called “Olive Branch” which resulted in the displacement of about 300.000 people of the original inhabitants of the city and its countryside.

The areas held by the SNA factions, for three days, have been witnessing unrest due to clashes with Hamza Division on the back of killing an activist and his wife at the hand of the division’s militants.

Reporting by Farouq Hamo