Idlib: HTS Authorities Arrest Academic Dr Ola Shareef


Dr Ola Shareef has been an ideological supporter of the HTS in Idlib. However, her recent criticisms of the Justice Ministry in the HTS-affiliated Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) have led to her arrest.

The security forces belonging to the Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)-led “Syrian Salvation Government” in Idlib city stormed into the home of Batul Ahmad Jundia, more commonly known as Dr Ola Shareef, who was subsequently arrested. Dr Ola Shareef is a lecturer at the Idlib University and although she has been a supporter of HTS, she has nevertheless directed several criticisms at the Salvation Government in public, which eventually led to her arrest.

Shareef published her criticisms on public platforms such as Telegram. Her mobile device and computer were confiscated by the security forces and searched in order to find evidence of “defamation” and “slander”. They were mainly directed at individuals in the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Education. She is said to have personally accused the Minister of Justice within the Salvation Government, Ibrahim Shashoub, of corruption.

The case against Shareef was reportedly brought against her by a security official belonging to HTS after a dispute with her during a seminar in Idlib city. According to the General Prosecutor in Idlib, Muhammad al-Khalid, two witnesses, Mustafa Sawaf and Safwan Shaaban, were brought forth to make their case against Shareef, accusing her of defamation.

Shareef is from Aleppo and graduated from Aleppo University from the Faculty of Literature and Humanitarian Studies. She lectures in literature and has published a number of works on Arabic literature and Arab and Islamic culture in general.

This incident is somewhat rarer in that the individual arrested is an HTS supporter herself, although it is not surprising given that anybody seen to in any way de-legitimise HTS rule through criticism has been repressed. The repression has thus far mainly targeted activists who opposed HTS rule altogether, as a means for the group to consolidate its control over areas of Idlib that have traditionally supported rebel groups other than the HTS throughout the conflict in Syria.