Tahrir al-Sham’s Abu al-Yaqadhan al-Masri: “The coming days are pregnant with surprises.”

Below is a 17 September Telegram post from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham shar’i Abu al-Yaqadhan al-Masri, one of a number of Tahrir al-Sham officials/media personalities who have reacted unfavorably to the announcement of a new Turkish-Russian deal for Syria’s Idlib. province.

Addressing the press after bilateral talks Monday, Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin announced a memorandum of understanding meant to stabilize the Idlib “de-escalation zone.” Critically, the memorandum stipulates the creation of a de-militarized buffer zone along northwest Syria’s rebel-government line of contact, to be jointly policed by Russia and Turkey. Rebels’ heavy weaponry will be removed from the zone, which is also to be cleared of (per Putin) “Jabhat al-Nusrah” (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham).

Like other Tahrir al-Sham figures, Abu al-Yaqadhan is not amicable to disarmament; he and his comrades portray their weapons as integrally to their dignity and continued jihad. Abu al-Yaqadhan may be particularly hardcore, among Tahrir al-Sham’s public-facing figures. He previously stirred controversy by apparently licensing Tahrir al-Sham fighters to shoot uncooperative rebel rivals in the head and take a relaxed approach to civilian collateral damage. But he is by no means alone among Tahrir al-Sham personalities who have voiced hostility to the Sochi agreement. Whether their snap reactions represent Tahrir al-Sham’s collective position remains to be seen. The initial response to the Sochi deal from the group’s official media outlet has been negative.

Abu al-Yaqadhan’s Telegram post:

Sham the Revealer

For the continuation of the jihad and the rule of shari’ah, the way forward is striking necks.

Whoever asks you to surrender your weapon, he deserves most to be fought, ahead of others.

Whoever retreats from his slogans of ‘continuing the fight until the regime is toppled’ and surrenders his weapon, he is a hypocrite #frog*.

Whoever manufactures problems to eliminate the mujahid factions to advance the Sochi agreement, he is a traitor [intelligence] agent.

The coming days are pregnant with surprises, so prepare for epic battles.

Note: “Frog” (difda’) is a Syrian opposition neologism for someone who flips to join the government loyalist camp, after Kafrbatna (East Ghouta) sheikh Bassam al-Difda’, a particularly well-publicized recent example.

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Source: Abu al-Yaqadhan al-Masri, Telegram

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