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Terrorism

Tahrir al-Sham seeks to legitimise control of Idlib

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

image

A picture taken on October 11th, from the Syrian village of Atme in the north-western province of Idlib shows a refugee camp next to a three-metre high fortification. A new rescue government in the province is considered by many to be a front for the Tahrir al-Sham alliance. [Omar Haj Kadour/AFP]

In an attempt to provide a cover for its control of Idlib, the Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is dominated by the former al-Nusra Front (ANF), claims it is handing over the administration of services in the province to a "rescue government", a local activist tells Diyaruna.

The new National Rescue Government, formed on November 2nd, is considered by many to be a front for Tahrir al-Sham.

Idlib-based activist Musab Assaf, who asked to use a pseudonym for safety reasons, said that this development is a new bid on the part of Tahrir al-Sham to protect itself and cover up for its terrorist actions.

"Tahrir al-Sham began on Tuesday [November 7th] to transfer the institutions of the Civilian Service Administration over to the rescue government," he told Diyaruna.

These include the water, electricity, transportation and crossings departments, he said.

The Civilian Services Administration is a body that Tahrir al-Sham claims consists of Syrian civilians who administer the areas under its control.

"They are in fact individuals who have no real authority on the ground and all institutions are still controlled by the group and its emirs," Assaf said, adding that the heads of sub-committees and new councils are appointed directly by the group.

Apprehension prevails among civilians

He added that civilians in the region totally reject the "rescue government".

The government, which comprises 11 ministries, also includes "a new army whose troops are none other than Tahrir al-Sham elements", he said.

"There is no other military force in the region other than Tahrir a-Sham since the latter got rid of all armed groups opposed to it a while ago," said Assaf.

Additionally, the alliance has begun preparing for the "military handover" process, he said.

"Some vehicles that now bear the rescue government's slogans belong in fact to the group and are manned by Tahrir al-Sham elements," he added.

Assaf said that residents of the city of Idlib are apprehensive about the mandatory military conscription that the group has been publicising in the region.

Tahrir al-Sham has already begun preparing new recruitment camps and notifications that will be delivered to young men targeted for recruitment, he said.

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