dating mathematics - Putin consolidating power
They are trying to attack the Syrian army’s positions, settlements, and they are trying to threaten our military air base in Hmeimim,” he added.
Clarke added that HTS might be aiming for the “Hezbollah model” in Syria, trying to morph into a well-equipped militia with a political wing.
Starting as the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria, HTS has tried to legitimize its presence in the country by saying it had severed ties with al-Qaida and rebranded itself as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in 2016. and European Union still consider HTS an al-Qaida-affiliated terror group.
Some experts see the development as an effort by HTS to consolidate power in northern Syria.
“HTS minimized competitions from other rival groups in the area, absorbs fighters who are more ideologically inclined with HTS, and HTS will use this to demonstrate to the Syrian population that it is the most legitimate group operating in Idlib, making it even more difficult to dislodge,” Colin Clarke, a senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, a New York-based think tank, told VOA.
“Jabhat al-Nusra dominates and violates the demilitarized zone,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this week.