Ma'arat Nu'man has been the main stronghold of anti-HTS sentiment in the Greater Idlib Region and its residents are adamant to refuse the group's rule.
Citizens in the city of Ma’arat Nu’man, located south of Idlib, responded to calls from local activists who invited the residents to demonstrate in the courtyard of the Great Mosque against the former al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which recently attacked the city.
According to locals, the group, which was labelled as “the symbol of evil and criminality,” has made multiple attempts to siege the city, although the residents have been able to fend them off.
Recently, HTS has been launching a series of attacks on strategic cities and towns throughout Idlib and Aleppo in order to secure its position in northern Syria.
“If they want to liberate what is already liberated, they can go to the fronts and fight the regime,” said Nahr Nahhas, the organiser of the Ma’arat Numan protests. “The HTS is currently doing what the regime did in al-Ghouta, which is the displacement of revolutionaries and activists. The HTS has also done this in the city of Atarib where activists and revolutionaries were evacuated by buses to Afrin.”
Citizens have expressed their anger at HTS’ attacks saying that they will not be welcomed in the city if they enter.
“They will be crushed because no one wants them here, and no one will hide them in his house,” said Khaled Ramadhan, a revolutionary activist in Ma’arat Nu’man.
In the past few weeks, citizens across Idlib and Aleppo have protested against HTS’ recent attacks and clashes with the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF). The clashes between the HTS and NLF arose after HTS accused Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a rebel group within the NLF, of killing five of its members.
Since then, HTS has been able to capture the key town of Atarib in western Aleppo Province, which was long hailed as a symbol of resistance against the Syrian Regime.
While infighting between HTS and the NLF continues, citizens fear that this fallout will draw in the Syrian Government to intervene in Idlib, risking the lives of thousands of Syrians, who are stuck between a rock and a hard place.