The Syrian Human Rights Network has accused Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) of killing Raed Fares and other activists for their criticism of extremist groups active in Idlib Province.
The Syrian Human Rights Network (SNHR), a Syrian NGO founded after the start of the 2011 conflict, issued a report recently accusing Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) of assassinating prominent media and civil activists in Idlib Province. The statement came after the assassination of two activists, Raed Fares and Hamoud Junaid, in the village of Kafr Nabl.
The report mentions that Fares and Junaid were previously arrested and tortured for their public awareness projects in the province. Furthermore, the report points out that Fares also survived several assassination attempts said to be carried out by HTS.
Raed Fares was the founder of Fresh FM, a radio channel in northern Syria, which seeks to promote a peaceful movement away from extremist groups. In an act of defiance, Fares played music on the radio channel, resulting in HTS and other militant groups threatening to assassinate him if he did not stop.
As a result of these threats and constant attacks, the SNHR concluded that HTS was to blame for the killing of Fares and Junaid. The SNHR report also urged the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to monitor HTS’ abuses against civilians across Idlib Province.
Recently, more and more of HTS’ crimes against locals have come to light, resulting in many protests being organised against the militant organisation.
Despite HTS controlling the majority of Idlib’s villages and towns, civilians have taken to the streets to protest their control especially after the recent string of assassination against civil activists.
Furthermore, the recent announcement by HTS of confiscating the homes of Christians in the province has sparked international outrage, with various Muslim leaders and organisations condemning this action, saying that it is not part of Islam.
According to observers, these horrific acts being carried out by HTS are an attempt by the militant group to eliminate more moderate voices in Syria, who demand the establishment of a civil state.
Despite these abuses and assassinations, the residents of Idlib, are determined to uphold the spirit of peaceful protests and civic activism that activists like Raed Fares and Hamoud Junaid were promoting.