Crime

Syria: HTS puts pressure on IDPs and threatens to expel them

Syria

The rebel group Hayy'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has given displaced people 72 hours to leave their camps in northern Idlib or face eviction.

The HTS is currently the main rebel military force that is imposing its authority over the Greater Idlib region. The group, however, espouses a totalitarian ideology and undertakes repressive measures to reach its goals. The nature of the group is detrimental to the most vulnerable people in the region, including internally displaced persons (IDPs).

IDPs living in camps in the northern parts of Idlib Province, namely in Kafraya, Dahrouj, Hasnawi, among others, have been given an ultimatum by the HTS to leave their camps within 72 hours, otherwise they would be faced with forced eviction.

The apparent reason for the group to take this measure is that the IDPs had not paid money to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Displaced Persons, affiliated with the HTS-backed so-called Syrian Salvation Government, to set up their camps in HTS-controlled areas.

IDPs living in those camps responded to the ultimatum with a written statement calling on humanitarian and international organisations to provide assistance to around 2,500 displaced people living in those camps.

The HTS has nevertheless made it extremely difficult over the past few months to allow external organisations to enter and operate in areas under the group’s control. It has restricted access, even in cases of humanitarian crises, so as to tighten their grip on territories in the currently unstable Greater Idlib region, where several rebel factions are competing with each other in an enclosed area surrounded by the hostile Syrian regime’s forces.

This situation has impacted negatively on civilians living in the region. The HTS has attempted to quell any form of resistance, especially in areas where local residents have traditionally taken an anti-HTS stance throughout the conflict. The group has also enacted various draconian laws, for instance it has closed down a number of educational institutions in Idlib and has imposed strict dress codes for girls and women in public spaces.

Image: Al Jazeera