Internal divisions are mounting within Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS): a wide-ranging crackdown by the security apparatus loyal to HTS leader Abu Mohammad al-Jolani has targeted key officials in the group, the latest round of internal detentions to shake HTS in recent months. Meanwhile, the regime and Russian forces continue their devastating bombardment campaign across the north-west, where dozens of attacks against civilians have been recorded.
Military Developments in North-West Syria
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Mounting tensions within Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in recent weeks have led to a series of internal arrests targeting a number of high-ranking leaders and their associates. HTS leaders have portrayed these arrests as a campaign against espionage within the organization, but, in reality, the crackdown has sought to quell destabilizing internal divisions and competition within the upper echelons of the hardline group. Despite these growing divisions, HTS commander al-Jolani appears personally secure in his leadership of the group for the time being.
Russian & Regime Activity
The regime and its allies have continued to broaden an intensified campaign of bombardment across north-west Syria that first began in November. Over the past month, major rocket strikes and artillery barrages struck sites across the region. Regime forces also targeted civilians with gunfire and sniper attacks in the towns of Abu al-Zindin and al-Kreizat. Regime attacks ultimately claimed the lives of at least 13 civilians and wounded more than 13 others, most of whom were women and children.
In coordination with the regime, Russian warplanes also continued an uptick in airstrikes from recent weeks, with dozens of attacks against civilian and military targets confirmed in the first half of November. Strikes were recorded across the provinces of Idlib, Hama and Latakia.
Radical Group Activity
Regiments of the hardline Fateh al-Mabin operations room repeatedly shelled pro-regime positions with barrages of artillery. Artillery and rocket hits were recorded in the western Aleppo countryside, northwestern Hama, the southern Idlib countryside, and the northern Latakia countryside. Fateh al-Mabin snipers also recorded the deaths of a total of 14 pro-regime troops across several locations including in Idlib province as well as northern rural Latakia.
New cases of cholera have continued to rise in north-west Syria, with the Epidemic Early Warning and Response Network announcing 12 new cases in recent weeks. This brings the total number of infections to 1,175. A significant number of farmers are resorting to irrigating their crops with contaminated drainage water due to water scarcity in various regions, contributing to the heightened risk of the epidemic spreading in coming weeks.
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