Today, the head of Hayat Tahrir Sham, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, revealed the objectives behind the Assad regime’s recent campaigns on Jabal al-Zawiya, south of Idlib, and the means to repel it.
Al-Jolani, in a meeting that included a group of journalists in Idlib, said that the regime’s current military campaign on Jabal al-Zawiya is aimed at provoking the factions in order to know about their military capabilities.
He added that another objective of the regime is to incite the people against the revolutionary factions. HTS’ leader added: “We do not expect an enemy ground attack towards the area in the current situation, but we do not rule out an escalation in the frequency of bombing”.
Al-Jolani praised the steadfastness of the residents of Jabal al-Zawiya in the face of the recent military escalation, stressing that the factions are responding to the attacks with a military strategy. He stated that the groups have targeted gatherings, artillery positions and operations rooms of the regime. The leader of HTS said that the factions have organized their forces within a joint operations room, which gives them additional strength.
He stressed that the factions and the locals must all work together in Jabal al-Zawiya to fortify the front lines, villages, vital facilities and even homes. al-Jolani also suggested the option of self-fortification in each house by digging trenches to reduce the damage of the shelling, and that his group is ready to help the people in this regard.
When asked about whether HTS is planning any future battles against the regime, al-Jolani’s response was: “We will go to battle when conditions are appropriate which we are preparing for. The decision of peace and war is in our hands” he said. He also responded to questions asked about the Turkish presence in the area and its positions towards the recent violations by the regime against the province by saying: “We consider the Turkish presence in our regions as a benefit but we have to rely on ourselves”.
Abu Hassan, the head of HTS military wing was also present in yesterday’s meeting, he stated that they had drawn up an integrated military plan to repel any attempt to advance by Assad forces by fortifying Jabal al-Zawiya and the remaining fronts. As well as deploying a number of fully equipped combat units on most of the fronts in the liberated areas for its defense. He said that the group has acquired new and specialized weapons but did not elaborate further.
The head of the military wing affirmed their readiness to the attendees for all expected scenarios and that the group had learned from its mistakes in the previous campaign about two years ago. Abu Hassan also added that they are preparing to regain the areas they had previously lost to the regime.
The Jabal al-Zawiya area, south of Idlib, has witnessed a military escalation carried out by Assad forces with Russian support for the past two months, which has resulted in the death and injury of dozens of civilians among them women, children and humanitarian workers.