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Interview with a Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham soldier

Discussion in 'Middle East & Africa' started by Jyotish Kailashkumar, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Jyotish Kailashkumar

    Jyotish Kailashkumar SENIOR MEMBER

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    Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham: Interview

    Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

    Jan 10, 2019

    In the latest round of fighting between Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and rival factions in the National Front for Liberation (NFL), it is apparent that HTS has scored a decisive victory. Besides routing Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki from west Aleppo countryside (long a source of great irritation for HTS), HTS has reached a ceasefire deal with the NFL today whereby the latter has agreed to allow the greater Idlib region and its environs to be administered by the Salvation Government, which is supported by HTS. This agreement goes a major step towards what Sam Heller has noted to be the strategic logic of HTS: namely, to unify civil administration and military assets in rebel-held northwest Syria.

    Below is an interview I conducted yesterday (prior to the ceasefire agreement) with HTS soldier Abu al-Layth al-Halabi. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.

    Q: What are the roots of the ongoing fighting between HTS and some of the factions from the NFL?

    A: Of course it is not hidden to anyone: the project of surrender that the Zinki movement began working on through meetings with the Russians in regards to handing over the villages and localities that lie under the control of this faction to the Russians. Previously I have published leaks of the agreement that occurred between the Zinki faction and the Russians that stipulates handing over of the villages and localities of the Muslims to the Nusayri army and the Russians. In addition, the Zinki movement brought in Jaysh al-Thuwar [a Syrian Democratic Forces-affiliated group of former rebels who were based in Afrin] to the villages and localities of the Muslims, and killed the best of the mujahideen of HTS. So now this faction has become a toxic dagger in the side of the Syrian revolution. Of course in any infighting that occurs, HTS informs all the factions that the problem is not with you oh factions but rather with this faction that wants to end the jihad and destroy the revolution in the land of al-Sham but the factions do not heed this and can only intervene to defend a faction in which the cases of immorality and acts of disobedience against God have become numerous, such as fornication and wine-drinking, in addition to blaspheming against God (Almighty and Exalted is He) openly and in broad daylight. And what has happened has happened from the interventions of the factions to defend this faction that wants to hand over the lands of the Muslims!!

    Q: There is also talk about the crimes of the Zinki faction against the Muslim masses in the liberated areas. Can you speak a little about this matter?

    A: 1. Among the crimes of this faction: when the families of the locality of al-Houta asked it to exact qisas [retaliation punishment] against the fornicating criminals who attacked one of the girls of the locality, this faction responded by killing the family of the girl who asked for qisas against the criminals who committed this monstrous obscenity with their daughter.

    2. When this faction seized the town of Darat Izza, it executed a number of the sons of the town solely because they were affiliated with HTS.

    3. When I visited the villages and localities that are newly liberated one of the families of the villages informed me that it was exposed to bombing by this movement and everytime infighting arises, the Zinki movement bombs the houses of the families who oppose Zinki, and indeed if the opportunity presents itself, the Zinki movement kills them. For the fact that they rejected fighting alongside it or rejected fighting the mujahideen of HTS and sat in their homes will not fall short as a reason in this regard.

    4. One of the families of the locality of al-Hibata west Aleppo informed me: this is one of the homes of security personnel of the Zinki movement. They bombed this person's house with tank-fire because he refused to go out with them and fight HTS!!

    Q: Currently what is the situation in Idlib generally? Will HTS and the other factions reach an agreement? It is said for example that HTS wants to seize Ma'arat al-Nu'man and Ariha. Is this talk true?

    A: You should know my dear brother that the mujahideen of HTS did not want to enter into a confrontation with the rest of the NFL components but when the infighting between HTS and Zinki began, we were surprised by the attack of Ahrar al-Sham and Suqur al-Sham on the villages and localities that lie under the control of the mujahideen there, and they [Ahrar and Suqur] clashed with them, took them prisoner, directed degradation at them, and attacked them even as they had kept their arms far from them!!

    And now those factions continue to threaten and indeed have even said that they will strike HTS with arms they have never used against the Nusayri army!! So what do you call these deeds?

    Q: But can we say that among the main aims of HTS is to unify the military forces and civil administration in the liberated north? And this requires the dissolution of the other factions like the NFL?

    A: We have previously said to them: hasten oh brothers, come and let us become one rank, for the coming stage required unity of rank but all the efforts were met with rejection. And a little while before I published a post speaking about the unity of rank and the fact that the Rafidites have unified their rank, so hasten oh our brothers, but...no response!

    . The area of America equals around 10 Islamic states but despite that a war occurred in the 18th century [sic: 19th century] between the north and south to unify the country because the voice of reason does not accept division, because division is weakness, and America was united by iron and fire despite the fact there were only two factions in it.

    . These people are disbelievers and they have understood the benefits of unity, so it is all the more so incumbent upon those to whom a Qur'an was revealed, commanding them to cling to God's rope, and the recent experience of the Taliban has made clear also that unifying ranks is difficult to attain and requires sacrifices.

    . Clinging to God's rope can be considered in this age of ours at the top of the list of Shari'i matters that must be realized even by iron and fire.

    Q: What is the future of the Idlib region generally in your view?

    A: The situation in Idlib is excellent praise be to God in the shade of stability of services and living that rules the city, and by God's permission in the coming days the revolution will return to its first cause of victories and conquests by God's power and force.

    Q: Can we say that the strategy is to continue the jihad until the results are realized like the case of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan?

    A: We cannot compare the experience of the Syrian revolution with the Afghan experience for every field has its elements, state of affairs and given facts. Previously Sheikh Abu Qatada [al-Falastini] published a tweet on his channel in which he said that "the revolution has ended, but now the jihad has begun." And I say now that the revolution ended when Homs, Deraa, al-Sham [Damascus] and Aleppo fell, and the purity of the mujahideen gathered in the north. And now the jihad has begun by the permission and force of God.

    Q: What is the aim of this jihad? Bleeding the enemy as is the case in Afghanistan?

    A; Brother, I have previously told you that we cannot compare the experience of the Syrian revolution with the Afghan experience, and I have previously told you that the spirit of the jihad will set forth anew by the permission of God Almighty.

    Q: So why doesn't HTS unite with the factions of the 'And Rouse the Believers' operations room [an operations room of jihadi factions]?

    A: HTS offered all the merger and never rejected merging with any factions, and the one who merged with Zinki- on the basis of its perceptions- in the hope of reforming it, will not oppose merging with 'And Rouse the Believers'. Not to mention the fact that all the components of 'And Rouse the Believers' came out of the womb of HTS, so it is more appropriate to direct this question to them. Why don't they merge with HTS?!

    Q: But I do not mean at the level of merger, but rather why doesn't HTS participate in the 'And Rouse the Believers' operations room?

    A: HTS has the greatest military power in the liberated areas, and it has operations rooms spread on all the fronts with the regime, and it has brought in and got all the factions involved in those rooms from Zinki- the worst of them- to 'And Rouse the Believers', and it has not been closed to anyone, but rather on the complete contrary HTS has been keen after Sharq al-Sikka [NB: see here for more details] for earnest participation militarily with all, and it has been keen for joint work and trying to make all the factions aware that our fate is one, and so were anyone to fall short, it will have negative ramifications on the liberated areas as a whole and for the individuals in them. In addition, note that the ribat [frontline manning] points of 'Hurras al-Din' [a faction proclaiming allegiance to al-Qa'ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri] that come under the 'And Rouse the Believers' operations room are all under the supervision of HTS and it- that is, HTS- is the one that provides expenditures of food and ammunition for them on a daily basis.

    Q: Generally how would you describe the relations between HTS and Hurras al-Din on the ground, knowing that some supporters of Hurras al-Din on the Internet accuse HTS of adopting nationalist thought?

    A: Hurras al-Din are our brothers in religion and they are mujahideen in the face of the criminal regime, and we respect and honour them, and the leadership of HTS is in direct contact with the leadership of Hurras al-Din, and the matters between the two factions are excellent praise be to God and there are no defects upon it. As for statements or works of some members from here or there, it is nothing more than unofficial talk and none of the two leaderships pays attention to it.

    As for the thought and manhaj [methodology/ideological program] of HTS, this is well-known to all and there is no reason for us to talk more about it.

    Q: Lastly what is your current stance on the Turkish army points in Idlib and its environs? Are these points still permitted in HTS' view and why?

    A: Regarding the Turkish points, it is well known that they entered according to an agreement between the political office for HTS and the Turkish government, and they entered with HTS' agreement of course and it is not hidden to anyone that they would not have entered without our agreement. And the evidence for that is how the Turks wanted to enter through an area in an illogical manner and without the advice of HTS, and there was deployment by the two sides- i.e. HTS and Turkey- and some of the military quarrels occurred on the borders and a Turkish crane was struck at the time.

    As for the competency of its presence or otherwise, this is a decision taken by the Majlis Shura [consultation council] of the group according to the general interest of the Muslims in the liberated areas according to the given facts on the ground.

    http://www.aymennjawad.org/2019/01/hayat-tahrir-al-sham-interview
     
  2. wulff

    wulff FULL MEMBER

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  3. Oublious

    Oublious SENIOR MEMBER

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    wasted time and effort, it will turn something like isis in the end.