Protests against HTS entry to Syria’s Azaz continue for 3rd day

AZAZ, Syria (North Press) – On Monday, residents of the city of Azaz north of Aleppo expressed their rejection of the entry of a military convoy of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly al-Nusra Front) to the city.

The city, which falls under the control of Turkish-backed armed Syrian opposition factions, also known as Syrian National Army (SNA), has been witnessing protests against the HTS entry since Friday after the latter expanded its sphere of influence in the northern countryside of Aleppo.

An HTS convoy was supposed to travel across the cities and towns of Aleppo northern countryside, but was canceled due to a “public outrage.”

The protesters blocked Azaz-Afrin main route by setting tiers on fire and shouting slogans against the HTS that is designated global terrorist.

This came following an agreement between HTS and Turkish-backed Third Legion, stipulating that the latter returns to its headquarters in Afrin.

However, human rights sources told North Press that General Security service of the HTS is still present in Afrin.

For days, the areas occupied by the SNA factions in Aleppo northern countryside have been witnessing fierce clashes between the SNA factions and HTS, yielding in the latter taking control over Afrin.

“The entry of the HTS to Afrin came due a Turkish green light,” the director of Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Rami Abdulrahman said on Saturday.

Afrin, a Kurdish city in the north of Aleppo, has been under Turkey’s control since March 2018 following a Turkish military operation called “Olive Branch” which resulted in the displacement of about 300.000 people from the city and its countryside, according to SHOR.

“We have to somehow bring opposition and the regime in Syria together to reach an agreement. Otherwise, there will be no lasting peace,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in August.

Cavusoglu’s statement sparked outrage and pushed residents in Azaz to organize protests against the reconciliation proposal.

Reporting by Farouq Hamo