Hurras al-Din Attacks Turkish Forces in Northwest Syria

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants in the northwest of Syria (AFP)
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants in the northwest of Syria (AFP)
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Hurras al-Din Attacks Turkish Forces in Northwest Syria

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants in the northwest of Syria (AFP)
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants in the northwest of Syria (AFP)

Signs of confrontations emerged Thursday in the countryside of Idlib province between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras al-Din amid the criticism of a human rights network over violations committed in the northwest of Syria.

A pro-opposition website said that Hurras al-Din attacked Turkish soldiers on the M4 highway.

Earlier, the Turkish Defense Ministry said two Turkish soldiers were killed and others were injured in Idlib in a rocket attack by "some radical groups" on the Aleppo-Latakiya road.

“The attack on the M4 highway was carried out by Hurras al-Din group, formerly a member of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham,” the pro-opposition Zaman al-Wasl website quoted sources as saying.

Following the attack, fierce clashes erupted on the highway between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and an unidentified group.

Hurras al-Din is known for its rejection of the agreement signed between Turkey and Russia in Idlib.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) revealed in its report released Thursday that Hurras al-Din is responsible for kidnapping and forcibly disappearing six activists working for relief organizations in Idlib.

The network urged the release of the detainees, the activists, and the prisoners of conscience as a precaution from the coronavirus.

In its five-page report, the group also outlined the history of the establishment of Hurras al-Din in February 2018, with the group’s leaders founding it after their defection from al-Nusra Front.

The report noted that Hurras al-Din controls four secret detention centers with approximately 113 detainees, based on the accounts of a number of former detainees who were released by the group.

“The group often does not claim responsibility for the kidnappings or detentions it carries out in order to avoid unnecessary antagonism with local communities,” SNHR said.

The report accused Hurras al-Din of committing widespread violations of international human rights law against the people in the areas under its control through kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and unfair rulings issued by courts that in no way comply with the basic rules of fair trials.

It called on the international community and the Security Council to accelerate the political transition process towards democracy in Syria to expedite the process of ending extremist groups, which live on wars and conflicts.



Lebanon Prepares Health, Social Plan Amid War Risks

A Lebanese inspects homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the town of Khiam in southern Lebanon (AFP)
A Lebanese inspects homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the town of Khiam in southern Lebanon (AFP)
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Lebanon Prepares Health, Social Plan Amid War Risks

A Lebanese inspects homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the town of Khiam in southern Lebanon (AFP)
A Lebanese inspects homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in the town of Khiam in southern Lebanon (AFP)

Lebanese political and diplomatic efforts to calm tensions between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon have not eased fears of a potential all-out war. This has led Lebanese ministries to prepare for the worst.

Firas Abyad, the Minister of Public Health in the caretaker government, stated that his ministry has activated a war emergency plan and increased readiness among medical teams.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has also developed strategies to mitigate the impact and respond if a conflict erupts.

“We have a four-month supply of medicines. We’ve strengthened our energy sources like fuel, electricity, and the internet. We’ve also trained our staff for wartime conditions and expect hundreds of thousands to be displaced internally,” said Abyad a few days ago.

A source from the Ministry of Health explained that proactive measures taken in anticipation of potential conflict aim to avoid unexpected situations like those experienced in 2006.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat under the condition of anonymity, the source mentioned that Abyad has been actively involved in refining contingency plans.

“The minister has been actively involved in refining this preparedness plan for months, regularly updating it. We’re also coordinating with international bodies for assistance, which has been positively received,” revealed the source.

The source emphasized that while emergency plans aren’t based on specific war warnings, it’s crucial for the ministry, along with other government bodies, to remain prepared for any unforeseen events.

The source affirmed that the ministry is readying government hospitals, particularly emergency and operating rooms, and coordinating closely with private hospitals.

The ministry is also identifying suitable spots for field hospitals to handle emergencies, providing quick aid to the injured. Additionally, it’s preparing ambulance teams to be available 24/7.

Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Kheir, the head of Lebanon’s Higher Relief Commission, assured Asharq Al-Awsat that HRC is fully prepared to handle any developments.

He emphasized their focus on providing food, bedding, and supplies to displaced people, particularly those currently fleeing from the south.

Al-Kheir mentioned that the commission operates within its modest annual budget and receives additional aid, including medicines for the Ministry of Health and government hospitals.

For security reasons, he declined to reveal the locations of new shelters or aid storage centers to prevent them from being targeted.