Recent protests organised by local residents in Idlib Province dissatisfied with HTS rule have been met with a harsh response from the extremist group.
Protests have rocked the cities, towns and villages throughout Idlib Province, including Idlib, Kafar Takharim, Saraqib, and Armanaz. Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the extremist military group in control of these areas has given the protesting citizens an ultimatum to end their demonstrations. It is feared that HTS will crack down on them harshly, as it has done before on numerous occasions, through forced detainment and torture.
The most recent wave of protests in Idlib Province have come as a result of new economic policies enacted by the local Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), which is connected to the HTS.
The SSG has increased the prices for electricity, food and fuel for the local population. One ampere of electricity provided for 3.5 hours used to cost 2,500 Syrian Pounds, whereas now the price has gone up to 3,500 for only 3 hours of electricity daily. The provision of one ration of bread used to amount to 900 grams whereas now it is estimated at 750 grams.
These measures have added to the already repressive policies that the SSG has imposed on the local population in Idlib. These include the forced taxation of people’s properties and possessions and the detainment of anybody who opposes these measures, as well as civil activists who have exposed the activities of the SSG.
Protesters are demanding that the SSG and the HTS cease their excessive interference in the lives of local residents. Those institutions are seen to be affecting the economic, public and private private lives of local residents, who are subject to not just financial policies, but also strict moral codes, similar in fashion to ISIS. For instance, HTS has imposed strict dress codes at educational institutions, especially on women.
Despite the crackdown on the local population in Idlib province, residents have been coming out to protests against the rule of the SSG and the extremist military group backing it, HTS, for months all across the province, especially in areas that were previously controlled by other Syrian rebel groups, before they were captured by the HTS.