Syria Daily: Turkey — We Are Trying to Separate Rebels from Jihadist HTS in Idlib

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (pictured) has declared that Ankara is trying to separate rebels from the jihadist bloc Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib Province in northwest Syria, hoping to move towards implementation of a de-escalation zone.

Russia, Iran, and Turkey declared the zone last month in talks in the Kazakh capital Astana. Ankara has said that it will join Moscow in deploying forces to monitor a truce.

However, Russia and the Assad regime have already unsettled the arrangement with a bombing campaign since September 19, hitting civilian sites such as hospitals, civil defense centers, and power stations as well as rebel factions who endorsed the Astana agreement.

Reports did not mention any Cavusoglu comments about the Russian-regime bombing. Instead, he spoke of a first stage to detach “moderate rebels” from “terror organizations”.

A “rebel source” supported the comments, referring to the Jabhat al-Nusra faction, now renamed Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and leading HTS: “With regards to Nusra, they are working to weaken it through intelligence operations.”

The source said operations could include assassinations and campaigns to undercut HTS support in Idlib communities.

Turkey was a supporter of opposition groups since the Syrian uprising began in 2011, but has moved away from their position since reconciling with Russia last year.

Ankara’s military intervened in August 2016, supporting a Free Syrian Army offensive that took territory from the Islamic State along the Turkish-Syrian border and in northern Aleppo Province. However, the Erdoğan Government, apparently under a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, stood aside as pro-Assad forces recaptured all of Aleppo city by December 2016.

HTS established its leading presence in Idlib Province, almost of all has been held by the opposition since spring 2015, with a summer offensive that pushed the other prevalent faction, Ahrar al-Sham, out of many of its positions.

Cavusoglu said of the situation in Idlib:

Think of a family with four sons. Two of them are members of the Free Syrian Army, which everybody supports, one is not related to anything and the last one is a member of a terror organization.

What do we do? Will we bomb this family and kill them all; the mother, father and small children? We have to determine the one and separate him from the others.

Russia: We Have Critcally Injured HTS Leader al-Joulani

The Russian Defense Ministry claims its warplanes have critically injured HTS leader Abu Mohammad al-Joulani and killed at least 12 field commanders.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said al-Joulani was the target of the airstrike.

Russia has claimed in the past that it has carried out high-profile assassinations through aerial operations, killing critcally wounding targets including Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Last week al-Baghdadi issues his first audio statement in more than a year, as ISIS waged a counter-attack in eastern Syria against pro-Assad forces including Russian troops.

On Tuesday the Islamic State released a video showing two Russian soldiers reportedly captured south of Deir ez-Zor city.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


  1. It is a mistake to treat HTS as “jihadist” or ‘terrorist. Their sin, in the eyes of Turkey are that they refuse to make deals with the Assad regime or any other oppressors of Syrians including Iran, Russia, the US, and Turkey. Some of the social views of some HTS members may be reactionary but no more so than those of Erdogan himself.

  2. Erdo’an (and Qatar) was supplying and financing Al Nusra and other Islamist radical groups in Syria, until Putin invaded Syria and told Erdo’an to stop, and exposed him. Erdo’an had no choice but to stop overt assistance to Nusra and now HTS. But for Erdo’an to want to assassinate HTS leaders who are ideologically pretty aligned with himself, that is very hard to believe. The Islamic Turkish government is a source of misinformation and disinformation. Under Islam, taqiyyah is benign as long as it promotes religious interests. These people have no principles whatsoever.

      • Exactly – rampant opportunism. In Islam, everything goes. No principles whatsoever. The end always justifies the means, because the end is Allah, and nothing should stop Allah.

        If it can help Islam, then lie.
        If it can help Islam, then support criminals and terrorists.
        If you can exploit, steal, or swindle, then it can be justified if you contribute to the Islamic treasury.

        The only thing that is needed is face-saving. So you can commit a crime, and if you can save face, then there is no problem.

        Finally, Allah knows all, and there is no injustice that does not go unpunished. Therefore, what is the harm in stealing and swindling? It will get punished, and the victim rewarded.

        This is practical Islam in a nutshell.

    • not quite correct. Rich Qataris supported Al Nusra but not the Qatari govt. Way back in 2014 and possibly earlier the Q govt put restrictions on funding Al Nusra and arrested the chief fund raiser.

        • A few months ago I read where HTS leaders said they are dependent on no foreign country and would capture what they need from Assad forces. But maybe some rich individuals are helping out.

          • I am pretty sure that Erdo’an deep state is still contributing to Nusra and its successors. So Turkish government money is given to some charity to do Islamic social work, which then parts of it is redirected to MIT deep state accounts or quasi-intelligence acocunts, which then Islamofascist middlemen use to send supplies and arms to Nusra, and the other Islamic fighters.

            We shall see HTS fighting the Kurds more often and Assad less often, as long as Assad leaves them alone in the de-escalation zones. It is important that Idlib remain in the hands of HTS and not FSA, otherwise there is the danger to Erdo’an that the rebels will become close with the Kurds and SDF.

            • I agree HTS is not likely to become friends with SDF or YPG but Turkey has aligned with Iran and Russia and HTS is the biggest threat to their objectives, so I would be surprised tofind any Turkish support for them Turkey runs Ahrar al Sham and the fascist Sultan Murad Brigade.

          • Well it seems that Erdo’an has some difficulty dealing with the new realities in Syria. In the north Aleppo zone that he controls, FSA and Ahrar al Sharqiya, which I understand is islamic, are fighting one another under the nose of Erdo’an. This may foretell a split in the rebel ranks, where one faction will join SDF and leave Turkey high and dry. If this happens, Erdo’an may as well kiss Al Bab and north Aleppo goodbye.

  3. ” Qalaat Al Mudiq‏ @QalaatAlMudiq 1h1 hour ago
    Replying to @QalaatAlMudiq

    #Pt. #Russia|n MoD says #ISIS attack on #Qaryatayn came from Rukban (sic, refugee camp) on #Jordan|ian border, in US “deconfliction zone”. Threatens #RuAF could strike there.”
    So, the rebels drove all the way from the Jordanian border, presumably via Damascus, to launch the attack originating from a refugee camp! This is obviously propaganda pre-empting yet another Russian war crime. They are telling us that they intend to bomb the poor souls in a refugee camp. Are there no depths that these thugs will not sink to?

  4. Former Yazidi sex slaves […] now determined to join the fighting unit set up by the Syrian Democratic Forces which is made up of Yazidi women, some of them former slaves themselves 9/27/2017

    Photo of the Day: Yazidi #SDF fighter from Shingal rescues his aunt and three of her children from #ISIS in #Raqqa, October 3, 2017

    #Rojava #Syria #Shingal #Sinjar #Iraq 10/4/2017

    Yazidi Genocide Survivor Condemns ISIS, Calls for Justice | Global Citizen Festival NYC 2017 […]

    The Yazidi people of Iraq suffered through an attempted genocide at the hands of ISIS beginning in 2014. Shireen Ibrahim, a Yazidi activist, joins UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, and UN Security Council member, Matthew Rycroft, to call for a full investigation into the war crimes committed by ISIS at Global Citizen Festival NYC on Sept. 23 9/23/2017

  5. The Kurdistan National Congress/ KNK Extends Condolences to American People After The Las Vegas Concert Massacre! 10/3/2017

    KNK: national army must be built to defend Kurdish gains 9/24/2017

    Kurdish people, politicians agree on forming a unified army 10/4/2017

    • Lol — YPG will not tolerate any of these “national army this or that”. You challenge YPG and the reply would be: “where were you when we were being blown up by ISIS in Raqqa and Kobane”? “We have the right to rule due to our martyrs.” “Who gave you the right to govern in peacetime when we brought the peace with so much sacrifice”. Yada yada yada — a combination of Marxism and backwardism. Good luck Saliatus, but you are insufferably optimistic.

  6. Andre – your hero Assad is also a drug trafficker, did you know that?

    “Agence France Press reported that the Turkish authorities had seized 2 tonnes of Captagon during raids in the Hatay region on the Syrian border. The pills, almost 11 million of them, had been produced in Syria and were being shipped to countries in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.[20]”

    • Andre – your hero Assad is also a drug trafficker, did you know that?

      I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s been a winning formula for the CIA since Vietnam.

      I take it that the US government is also responsible and complicit in all drugs manufactured and exported from the US?

      • How can the jack-boot Syrian state which controls every aspect of its people’s lives not be able to detect 2 tons of illegal drugs being manufactured with pre-cursors, and then exported at a huge profit, on a continual basis? As far as I know, no illegal drugs get exported from the US.

        • That’s odd. Intil now you have insisted that Assad does has no legitimacy and does not control the entire state. In fact, a civil war would seem like the greatest opportunity for militant groups to cash in on an elicit drug trade where government law enforcement is practically non existent

  7. Interesting. Andre in his desperation to rewrite history and push Savushkaya Street fake narratives, routinely goes back a couple of weeks in Syria Daily and replies to comment that have debunked him. He does not do that to current comments – but to those that are a week or two old – resting assured that there will be no counter-argument to his fake narratives. Which real reader and commenter would bother to go back two weeks to reply to a comment? Only if you want to overflow the pages here with propaganda.

    Is this the method to debate in good faith? I think not. Further proof that Andre is not interested in sincere debate or factual dialog. His interest is to push the Russian narrative, and to disseminate propaganda, as wide as possible, is now pretty much ascertained.

    • He is like that from years. But as i said many times nobody in here takes him seriously. Actually i am always looking foward to his comments, they are great to laugh at. Its the comedy area of EA.

    • You’ve taken narcissism and paranoia to a whole new level Kazemi. I haven’t witnessed such a siege mentality since the run up to the 2004 elections.

      Unlike some of you, I have had precious little time to spend on EA, so my reading usually involves catching up when I can afford the time.

      • How do you explain that yesterday you want back to Syria Daily of September 29, and entered about 6 more propaganda comments? That thread is essentially closed.

        • How do you explain that yesterday you want back to Syria Daily of September 29, and entered about 6 more propaganda comments?

          What’s there to explain? They threat is only 1 week old and I only recently read it. I corrected some false claims as I felt necessary, but the thread is still open for comments.

  8. Well it seems that Erdo’an has some difficulty dealing with the new realities in Syria. In the north Aleppo zone that he controls, FSA and Ahrar al Sharqiya, which I understand is islamic, are fighting one another under the nose of Erdo’an. This may foretell a split in the rebel ranks, where one faction will join SDF and leave Turkey high and dry. If this happens, Erdo’an may as well kiss Al Bab and north Aleppo goodbye.

    • Speaking off having difficulty dealing with the new realities in Syria Kazemi, did you see this statement from Avigdor Lieberman?

      <i?”see a long international queue lining up to woo Assad, include Western nations, including moderate Sunnis. Suddenly everyone wants to get close to Assad. This is unprecedented. Because Assad is winning, everyone is standing in line,” </i?

      It looks like Assad’s legitimacy and recognition as the sovereign leaders of Syria is getting traction.

      • Except he has no control over 50% of Syria, and places that he has jackboot control, there are new rebellions which he must put down – like a whack-a-mole thing. Assad has nothing to offer anyone, but his acolytes. Why would any western leader want to connect with Assad?

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