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Gunmen assassinate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham official in Syria’s Idlib Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Gunmen assassinate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham official in Syria’s Idlib

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham rule Idlib with an iron fist [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 November, 2019

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Syria’s HTS militants blame the execution of a judge on the Islamic State group, despite the fact that widespread popular unrest has been brewing in the province in recent weeks.
A group of unidentified gunmen shot dead a senior security official of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Islamist militant group that governs Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.

Local sources told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service the gunmen opened fire on Amir al-Shaiti, an examining judge at a prison facility run by HTS, killing him immediately.

The assassination occurred closed to Shaiti’s home in the town of Salqin, close to the Turkish border, sources added.

Security forces immediately blocked roads and erected security checkpoints in a bid to locate the attackers, however there were no reports of arrests.

Syria weekly: Idlib civilians demand no Assad, no Jolani

Areas under HTS control in northern Syria have witnessed a string of assassinations of civilians, soldiers, activists and journalists.

HTS accuses rogue Islamic State cells of being behind these attacks.

However, popular unrest has been brewing against HTS’s harsh, authoritarian measures against the residents of Idlib, the last of Syria’s province’s under opposition control.

Last week, the town of Kafr Takharim rose up in protest against HTS’s unpopular political authority, resulting in a massacre of protesters that sparked fears of a wider violent crackdown on activists in the opposition province.

The northwestern Idlib town erupted in protest sparked by a new tax on olive oil production -  the town’s main source of income - imposed by the HTS-affiliated Salvation Government.

After Salvation Government officials were forced out of town by residents and their local offices taken over, HTS besieged Kafr Takharim. Militants fired on residents with machine guns and mortars, reportedly killing three people and injuring more.

HTS, which includes the previous Al-Qaeda Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front, has shown its authoritarian tendencies numerous times in the war.

Although under a shaky ceasefire deal, Idlib is bombarded by Russian airstrikes and Syrian regime shelling on a daily basis.

Nine people, including at least five civilians, were killed overnight on Saturday by Russian bombings on the towns of al-Malajah and Saraqeb, according to a source in the Syrian Civil Defence.

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