Tensions prevail in the rural Idlib province city of Binnish in north-western Syria, after Tahrir al-Sham elements surrounded the city on Friday (February 2nd) to punish residents for staging demonstrations in opposition to the extremist alliance.
Binnish residents were protesting against Tahrir al-Sham's attempts to dissolve the city's local council per a directive issued by the group's "salvation government".
The National Salvation Government, formed on November 2nd, is considered by many to be a front for Tahrir al-Sham.
Residents were also protesting the group’s burning on Friday evening of the flag of the Syrian revolution that they had raised in the public square, activist Ahmad al-Hassoun of the Binnish co-ordination committee said.
Defections from Tahrir al-Sham
A local armed faction led by Abu Dujana Binnish announced on Sunday its defection from the extremist alliance, al-Hassoun said.
"This came as a result of the transgression committed on an almost daily basis by Tahrir al-Sham elements," he told Diyaruna.
"This faction was previously affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) but its elements were forced by Tahrir al-Sham to swear allegiance to it, giving them a choice between pledging allegiance or giving up their weapons and leaving the region," he said.
Al-Hassoun said tensions between the residents of Binnish and Tahrir al-Sham stem from the refusal of the city’s leading figures to dissolve the local council.
"The local council has continued to administer the city’s affairs at the request of the residents and leading figures, who supported the measure," he said.
This irked Tahrir al-Sham and prompted the group to send a large number of elements to surround the city and storm its houses in search of wanted residents who openly reject the group, he added.
Tahrir al-Sham elements killed youth activist Hussam Hourani while they were trying to arrest him, he said.
This led to direct clashes with the group’s elements, while some residents stormed the police station affiliated with Tahrir al-Sham and expelled its elements from the city.