On May 35, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) killed a field commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the de-facto ruler of the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.
The commander, Abu Omar Darayya, was killed when SAA artillery strikes hit a position he was manning near the town of Kabani in the northern Lattakia countryside. The town is a stronghold of HTS and several other terrorist groups, including the Turkistan Islamic Party and Ajnad al-Kavkaz.
Abu Omar Darayya, who is originally from the southeastern suburbs of Damascus city, was reportedly a field commander in HTS’s Uthman ibn Affan Brigade.
The SAA’s artillery strikes were likely a response to recent violations of the ceasefire in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey more than three years ago. In recent days, HTS and its allies launched several direct and indirect fire attacks from the region.
HTS has been attempting to sabotage ongoing Russian and Iranian efforts to restore ties between Ankara and Damascus by destabilizing Greater Idlib, where the Turkish military maintains a fairly large presence.
The terrorist group fears that Ankara could withdraw its forces from the region to facilitate the normalization process, which would leave the door wide open for the SAA and its allies to resume large-scale ground operations.
Despite these attempts, the Turkish-Syrian normalization process is going as planned. Ankara’s foreign minister revealed earlier this week that committees with military, intelligence and diplomatic representatives from the two neighboring countries as well as from Iran and Russia will begin working in Syria in the near future.