HTS continues arrests in Afrin

The HTS General Security Service has continued to arrest people in Afrin after the HTS takeover of Afrin.
HTS fighters (Photo: OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP)
HTS fighters (Photo: OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The General Security Service of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group formerly known as al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, has arrested a former Jaiysh Al-Islam member near Jehan hospital in Afrin city, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reports on Saturday

The HTS took control of Afrin city on Oct 13 after clashes with rival Turkish-backed rebel groups. The HTS was supported by the Turkmen dominated Sulaiman Shah group and the Hamza Division.

HTS as a result control Afrin city and surrounding areas such as Jindires, Shera district and also in the Bilbil and Raco districts.

SOHR also said that the HTS deployed in the Shirawa district raising the banner of Ahrar al-Sham, while HTS uses banners of the Hamza division and Sulaiman Shah group in Jindiris.

Also on Oct. 15, the HTS General Security Service arrested a civilian from Damascus. Moreover, on Oct. 18, HTS arrested two civilians from eastern Ghouta in Afrin’s city centre.

Read More: US Embassy in Syria calls for HTS withdrawal from northern Aleppo

The US Embassy in Syria on Oct 18 called for the HTS from northern Aleppo. "HTS forces should be withdrawn from the area immediately."

On Oct 15, the HTS partially withdrew military units from Afrin following a ceasefire deal. However, the internal security is still under HTS control. Moreover, the HTS has established bases with banners and flags from other factions.

SOHR said that locals in Afrin say that there has been a decline in theft and security chaos. However, there is less humanitarian support with the approaching winter.

The HTS reportedly wants to form one united civilian administration in areas under Turkish influence and occupation. However, activists in Azaz have protested the expansion of HTS influence.

In Turkish-occupied al-Bab a meeting was held on Oct. 20 to discuss the HTS project without reaching any results.

Infighting started between Turkish-backed groups after the Hamza Division killed activist Abu Ghannoum and his pregnant wife in Syria’s al-Bab on Oct 7. 

Since then HTS and its allies has expanded its control over the Turkish-occupied region of Afrin that Turkey occupied in 2018.