On Thursday 26th April, Idlib witnessed a large-scale campaign of assassinations of military figures, leaders and operatives belonging to various armed factions, including the Sham Liberation Organization, the Turkestan Islamic Party and the Free Army. The assassinations were mostly carried out by security cells and by direct fire, from private cars and motorcycles. The cells spread widely, in the countryside and the city of Idlib, and the security barriers and security institutions of the opposition were unable to control the movement, which looked very carefully studied. The assassinations can not be described in the last two days as indiscriminate, but they were carried out in a systematic and deliberate manner.
The first assassination took place north of the city of Ma’arat al-Nu’man, and targeted “Abu al-Ward, Kafr Batikh a”, prominent leader of the “Liberation of the Sham”, who was killed by a group of masked people were riding in a private car, shot him and his personal facilities, directly, and killed them dead.
Abu Salim Benesh, a leader of the Free Army, was also killed by a group of masked men on the outskirts of the city of Benesh, on the road between Bensh and Maasreen in the northern Idlib countryside. This time, motorcycles were used to escape the barriers, and the group managed to escape after taking agricultural roads.
Three people were killed near Maara Misrin in the village of Idlib, who are displaced from Zabadani from the countryside of Damascus. Abu Rabi Halafia, head of the vehicles division of the Liberation of the Sham, was shot and killed immediately after leaving a headquarters of the Liberation of the Sham near Khan Shaykhun.
Three members of the Turkestan Islamic Party were killed near the town of Armanaz, north of Idlib. The pharmacist Trad Al-Diri was killed in the town of Jubas, near Sarakib, after he was shot and masked in a private car. The pharmacist is close to the “Liberation of the Sham”. One civilian was killed and another was shot directly near the town of Hazanu in the northern Idlib countryside.
In the city of Jisr al-Shughour in the western countryside of Idlib, a civilian was killed and others were wounded by unknown gunfire, targeting them near the town of Ein al-Suda. One person was also killed and another was wounded by random shooting in the thirtieth street in the center of Idlib. The Director of the “Information Department” in the Directorate of Education in Idlib Mustafa Haj Ali, an assassination attempt after masked men fired at him near the town of Neirab. Haj Ali escaped death, but his condition remains precarious. Four members of the Free Army survived an assassination attempt near the town of Sarqeb, east of Idlib. Three of the immigrants belonging to the “Liberation of the Sham” were killed by gunfire on their car near the town of Armanaz in the western countryside of Idlib.
One person in Sarmin, east of Idlib, was wounded by masked men with a live bullet. On a hill in the western countryside of Aleppo, masked men targeted the elements of a checkpoint belonging to the “Sham Corps”, killing one person and injuring others. A group attempted to storm the house of the Commander of the Aleppo Army, Captain Amin Malhis, in the village of Sahara, west of Aleppo. The director of the Hawalat company was also killed in the city of Sarmada in the northern countryside of Idlib. The director of the media office in the “Army of Azza” Jamil Alam Dar, survived an assassination attempt near his headquarters in the area of Khan Sheikun.
Abdullah al-Muhaisni was also subjected to assassination and a police officer was killed by placing an explosive device in his car. Muhseni is a Saudi preacher who came to Syria in early 2013 and is one of the most prominent preachers of the Islamic factions in Syria. He is also known for his position against the “Islamic state”.
Comments on Idlib’s campaign of assassinations varied, just days after a final ceasefire agreement was reached and an end to fighting between the northern Syrian factions. Activists confirmed that the campaign of assassinations and security chaos in Idlib and the countryside of Western Aleppo are behind the groups of “Al-Aqsa Brigade” and elements of the “Al Qaeda” and cells belonging to the “Islamic State”. They are organized groups with headquarters and means to carry out simultaneous attacks and create security chaos .
On the other hand, activists and opponents in Idlib see that an internal abolition campaign is under way, and the campaign of assassinations may continue in the coming period, and may include prominent figures in the Salafist jihadist movement from different factions in Idlib, in preparation for the next stage, which may witness a redistribution of the military balance of power in the north of Syria.