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Terrorism

Protests against Tahrir al-Sham in rural Idlib

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

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Residents of the town of Hazareen in rural Idlib raise signs demanding the release of detainees held by Tahrir al-Sham. [Photo courtesy of Musab Assaf]

Residents of the town of Hazareen in southern rural Idlib province took to the streets this week to demand that Tahrir al-Sham release the head of the town's Military Council, activists told Diyaruna.

Protesters have blocked roads with rocks and burnt tires since Saturday (August 4th) to demand the immediate release of Lt. Col. Ahmed Khalid al-Qanatri, said activist Musab Assaf.

Al-Qanatri, who was arrested last week by the extremist alliance, "had defected from the Syrian army after the start of the [Syrian] revolution and does not belong to any armed group", Assaf said.

"He has dedicated his efforts to protect the town in the years since he formed the Military Council," he added.

Al-Qanatri was detained along with another officer named Ahmed Abdel Jabbar Abdul Aziz, he said.

"The arrest of al-Qanatri stemmed from tensions between his council and Tahrir al-Sham, which issued arrest warrants for 17 women in Hazareen for demonstrating against the group and rejecting its presence in the region," Assaf said.

Al-Qanatri "opposed the move and refused to hand over the women, which put him in direct confrontation with the group, leading to his arrest", he said.

Assaf noted that the rejection of Tahrir al-Sham is prevalent in various areas of Idlib, particularly in the towns of al-Atareb and Maarat al-Numan, which also witness protests from time to time.

Protests against the extremist alliance extended to a camp for internally displaced persons near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, where residents held protests after they were informed by Tahrir al-Sham that they must vacate the camp.

A Tahrir al-Sham patrol opened fire on the protesters, wounding some of them, who were transported to the hospital for treatment, Assaf said.

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