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‘We’ve been forced to take up arms’: Idlib civil society workers turn to factions in wake of US funding freeze - Syria Direct
Abdul Kareem quickly found a job with hardline Islamist coalition Hay’at Tahrir a-Sham (HTS), the dominant faction in Idlib and formerly Al-Qaeda’s Syrian counterpart Jabhat a-Nusra. HTS was designated a terrorist organization by the US government in May.

“I’m fundamentally opposed to all of their policies,” says Abdul Kareem, who now serves on the faction’s police force, “but I need money to provide for my children.”

Two other former URB employees who spoke with Syria Direct found positions within Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions. All three men now carry a weapon on a daily basis. They asked that their real names be withheld in this report, fearing repercussions from local rebel groups.

The sudden shift from office jobs to frontlines reflects the fragility of a nascent Syrian civil society movement that often hinges on shrinking pools of foreign aid—and the potential for armed groups with deeper pockets to fill the void left behind by funding cuts.  

“Searching for a job in the north is like looking for a needle in a haystack,” says Muhammad al-Ali, a 27-year-old native of Kafr Nabl. “We’ve been forced to take up arms in order to survive.”

Until recently, al-Ali’s voice was a staple of the local news coverage broadcast by Radio Fresh. But after the funding freeze, he says he grudgingly accepted a position as a liaison officer with a Free Syrian Army faction, taking advantage of a personal connection to another officer.

“I never imagined that one day I’d leave my job, join an armed group, carry arms and head to the frontlines,” the father of two says. “I was forced to do so in order to provide for my family.”
civil_society  localGovt  Idlib  recruitment  FSA  JabhatAl-Nusra  Mar15  foreign_aid  TrumpAdministration 
3 days ago by elizrael
تقرير استقصائي: "نداء سوريا" تكشف الجهات المتورطة بأعمال الاغتيالات والخطف في إدلب - June 19, 2018 Nidaa Syria
تبين خلال متابعة تفاصيل قضية اختطاف مدير المكتب السياسي للواء شهداء الإسلام النقيب "سعيد نقرش"، وناشطٍ إعلامي آخر من مدينة داريا أن عناصر تتبع لأحد تكتلات "هيئة تحرير الشام" هي من قامت بالعملية.
وتم الإفراج عن "نقرش" مقابل فدية بلغت 75 ألف دولار، والناشط الإعلامي لقاء مبلغ 17 ألف دولار.
وأكدت مصادر أمنية لـ "نداء سوريا" أن عناصر تتبع لـ "جيش الشام" الذي يضم مقاتلي الهيئة المهجرين من محافظة دمشق وريفها متورطون بعملية خطف كلٍّ من "نقرش" والناشط الإعلامي، حيث تم التعرف على هوية بعضهم عن طريق المراسلات، وقام المجني عليهما بتقديم الأدلة إلى قضاء الهيئة لكن لم يتم اتخاذ إجراءات حتى اللحظة.
Mar15  JabhatAl-Nusra  kidnapping  crime  Idlib 
10 days ago by elizrael
A wave of reverse displacement towards regime-controlled areas in northern Syria | SyriaUntold | حكاية ما انحكت
A one-of-a-kind reverse displacement is taking place in Syria with hundreds of people leaving opposition-held territory in the north and returning to their villages in areas that had been retaken by the Syrian regime since the end of 2017. These areas include about 300 towns and villages that exceed 2,400 km2 in the eastern area of the Hejaz Railroad.
Mar15  IDPs  Idlib  hidden 
13 days ago by elizrael
Battle for Idleb: Is the Armed Opposition Losing its Popular Base? - Enab Baladi, Jan 2018
The notable military decline and the failure of the opposition to halt the advance of Assad’s forces, coinciding with a near-permanent internal conflict between rebel groups at the expense of others, has affected the opinion of the popular base and resulted in a backlash against them in the villages which have seen internal conflicts, with HTS a main component in most of them.

Activist Khalil al-Sameh told Enab Baladi that the obstacles and crises the revolution is enduring, alongside the rebel groups ignoring the concerns of locals, has impacted relations between civilians and the armed opposition. He added that “withdrawals and so on that may be outside the control of the groups have contributed significantly to the people’s alienation and their constant blame in light of the continuing mistakes.”

Kamal Abu al-Majid, a military commander in Ahrar al-Sham, said that “we have come to see fighting between the rebel groups which claim to protect residents from the regime’s brutality, in an effort to impose influence on liberated areas and exploit people’s resources and ruling by strength. The issue has come to include intervention in civilian and education affairs, while some who distance themselves from that do not hide their allegiance to foreign countries and their implementation of agendas at the people’s expense.”
hidden  Mar15  Idlib 
16 days ago by elizrael
Rebel Infighting Affects Free Police in Idleb - Zeitoun, April 19, 2018
The members of the Free Police have faced major risks carrying out their security work, thanks to air bombardment and the general spread of weapons – all of which have reduced the agency and limited its tasks to the point that it has nearly vanished at many points.
Mar15  Idlib  police  localGovt  Judiciary  internal_struggle 
20 days ago by elizrael
Ghouta is now in Idlib… Who is next? | SyriaUntold, June 6, 2018
When the exhausted residents of Eastern Ghouta arrived in Idlib, they were surprised by a warm and well-organized welcome. Syrian charities and associations were quick to spring to action but they were not the only ones helping out. Local residents also gave a hand.
Damascus  IDPs  solidarity  Idlib  Mar15  NGO  localGovt  aid 
4 weeks ago by elizrael
Al Qaeda's 're-radicalisation' schools lure ISIL fighters in Syria - The National, Jan 20, 2018
In Idlib province, the rebel coalition Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), dominated by the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fatah Al Sham, has put “between 100 and 150” ISIL militants through the scheme so far, security sources told The National.
JabhatAl-Nusra  ISIS  Mar15  indoctrination  Idlib 
7 weeks ago by elizrael
This is the first month of Ramadan I will spend outside my house in
I will spend here in
Idlib  Eastrenghouta  from twitter_favs
9 weeks ago by miaeaton
North Homs residents rethink decision to evacuate after convoy redirected to rebel-held Idlib - Syria Direct
“I didn’t want to cause my family pain through this evacuation,” said Hamam Khaled, a resident of the north Homs town of al-Hamrat who is wanted for compulsory military service. “I told them I was ready to go to the army.”

Al-Mahmoud says he weighed a similar risk. “I am staying, which might cost me my life,” said the Talbiseh resident. “But it would be easier than the humiliation [of leaving].”
Homs  Mar15  Idlib 
10 weeks ago by elizrael
Idlib is now in Ankara's crosshairs as it tries to secure its borders - The National
The meeting with Turkish officials last week was connected to two other efforts by Turkey in that region and builds on the events in October.

The first is an agreement between Hayat Tahrir Al Sham and rebel factions to end two months of fighting in Idlib. The truce happened in the backdrop of a meeting in Istanbul and was part of Turkey’s push for the two sides to end infighting and discuss ways to resolve the conundrum presented by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham.

The second is a stated effort by Turkey to “professionalise” rebel militias operating in northern Syria with military-style legions. This effort became more pronounced with the operation in Afrin, where Turkey, at least publicly, insisted on the involvement of fighters as part of a “national army” rather than as whole militias.

While the forces were far from disciplined or organised military units, a new Turkish approach was clear. Turkey has demonstrated in recent months that it was no longer committed to the sponsorship of a rebel faction as a standalone proxy. In the past, for example, Turkey worked with groups like Ahrar Al Sham as proxy forces and invested in their survival as such.
AhrarAl-Sham  Mar15  JabhatAl-Nusra  Turkey  Idlib  internal_struggle 
11 weeks ago by elizrael

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