Iraq News

Ariha breaks away from Tahrir-al-Sham's authority

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo


Members of the Ariha local council are seen during elections held on May 12th. The council recently announced it is breaking away from the Tahrir al-Sham-controlled 'salvation government'. [Photo courtesy of Musab Assaf]

The Ariha city council in Idlib province on Sunday (June 3rd) announced it is seceding from departments and institutions of the so-called "salvation government" which is controlled by Tahrir al-Sham, an activist said.

The decision was issued in response to the deterioration of basic services such as electricity and water, which have not been up to par even though the salvation government is constantly collecting taxes, activist Musab Assaf said.

In addition to the dearth of public services, he told Diyaruna, the security situation has been deteriorating in the areas controlled by Tahrir al-Sham.

The Ariha city council issued the decision "following consultations between its members and many leading figures in the city and surrounding areas", he said.


Residents of the city of Ariha gather at the site of a building that collapsed as a result of an explosion in the centre of the city on Thursday (May 31st). [Photo courtesy of Musab Assaf]

"It has opted to fully separate from departments in the city of Idlib controlled by the Tahrir al-Sham-controlled salvation government," he added.

The decision stemmed from the deterioration of services provided by government departments, he said, in addition to the deteriorating condition of the roads and of law and order.

Taxes without services

Departments controlled by the salvation government had been collecting taxes from residents of Ariha and the surrounding areas that fall under its administration without providing services, Assaf said.

"This failure to deliver came even though the city has all the water-related resources and equipment required for distribution to the area," he said, adding that the same is true of electricity.

The salvation government collected taxes without making repairs or increasing the number of electricity and water service hours, he said.

Residents were under pressure to pay on a regular basis, and the number of water and electricity service hours were reduced to pressure those who refused to pay the salvation government, he added.

Deteriorating security situation

The security situation was the biggest concern for the Ariha city council, however, in view of the bombings that are taking place in the city and in other areas under Tahrir al-Sham’s control, Assaf said.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have been targeting the alliance's units and elements, he said, adding that dozens of civilians have been killed by these devices.

An explosion that took place in the centre of the city on Thursday (May 31st) that toppled a building and killed and injured a large number of civilians hastened the local council's decision to secede, Assaf said.

The city of Ariha has sought to distance itself as much as possible from salvation government departments to spare the area from the security tensions and bombings targeting the alliance and its elements, he said.

The secession also comes in protest of the lax security that enabled the recent wave of bombings that has claimed dozens of lives, Assaf said.

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