Iraq News
Terrorism

Tahrir al-Sham closes interim government offices in Idlib

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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Ahmed Qassoum, assistant minister of local administration in the Syrian Interim Government, was arrested by Tahrir al-Sham elements on Tuesday (December 19th). [Photo courtesy of Musab Assaf]

Tahrir al-Sham, an extremist alliance dominated by the former al-Nusra Front (ANF), raided the Syrian Interim Government's offices on Tuesday (December 19th) in Idlib and arrested several staff members, activists told Diyaruna.

Through the guise of a "salvation government", Tahrir al-Sham had issued a warning on December 11th to the Syrian Interim Government to close its offices in Idlib.

A number of Tahrir al-Sham security elements blocked the streets in Maarat al-Numan on Tuesday and raided the interim government’s headquarters, said Hani al-Numan, a youth activist in the city.

They also raided the offices of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health, he said, adding that the group's elements arrested Assistant Minister of Local Administration Ahmed Qassoum and Assistant Education Minister Abdul-Salam al-Amin.

"These actions come as part of Tahrir al-Sham's push to eliminate the interim government and replace it with the national salvation government that was formed by the alliance, and which is totally rejected by the local population," he said.

Cracking down on aid offices, pharmacies

Al-Numan said Tahrir al-Sham's elements also arrested the custodian of the warehouse of one of the relief organisations in the town of Harem in rural Idlib on Monday.

Tahrir al-Sham accused Abdullah al-Youssef, the custodian, of refusing to co-ordinate with the alliance's relief offices, he said.

Meanwhile in Saraqeb, "the group raided the civil court building and arrested seven employees who had continued working despite having been previously warned by the group to vacate the building", he said.

On Tuesday, Tahrir al-Sham elements also shut down a number of pharmacies and sealed them with red wax after confiscating large quantities of medicine, al-Numan said.

The owners of the pharmacies were targeted because they had "refused to pay taxes to the group or the salvation government, and continued to pay them to the interim government", he added.

Al-Numan said high tension prevails in the city of Idlib and the rest of the rural Idlib region due the group’s actions.

"This is accompanied by serious concerns over the fact that the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' (ISIS) is approaching the borders of the province," he said.

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