Democracy and liberal values are on the rise in the opposition-held part of Syria’s Greater Idlib region.
On July 31, forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) raided positions of the Syrian Army in the vicinity of the town of al-Ruwaihah in southern Idlib. Following the attack, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham also launched unguided rockets at army positions near the town of Maarat al-Numan. Pro-militant sources claimed that 5 Syrian soldiers were killed or injured in the attacks. Pro-government sources denied these claims.
On August 1 and August 2, militants shelled the government-controlled villages of Kafr Nabel and Hazzarin.
The army responded to these actions on August 2 and August 3 by targeting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham positions at Kafr Uwayd, al-Barah and Wadi al-Butah. It also deployed reinforcements to the frontline in the Zawiya Mountian area. Pro-Turkish and pro-militant sources claim that these actions signal that the Syrian military is preparing an offensive operation in the area.
At the same time, they emphasize that Idlib rebels are adamant to secure gains of the so-called Syrian revolution from attacks of the Assad regime. On August 1, Idlib rebels even held a special performance dedicated to this on the frontline. A thermal surveillance system of the Syrian Army recorded two militants having gay sex on the roof of a building at a frontline position in the vicinity of the town of Enkawi in southern Idlib.
The town is jointly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the National Front for Liberation. Both these groups pretend to be promoting hardcore conservative, Islamic values (often similar to al-Qaeda-styled ideology). However, the practice, specially with multiple sex scandals over the recent years, demonstrates that their members and leadership have their own version of this ‘conservative ideology’.
On August 1 and August 2, ISIS cells attacked Syrian Army positions in the provinces of Homs and Deir Ezzor. The first attack took place in the outskirts of the town of al-Sukhnah, while another one erupted west of Deir Ezzor city. At least 5 pro-government fighters were killed and several others were injured.
In a strange coincidence, the ISIS attacks increased just after the so-called Self-Administration in North and Northeast Syria, an administrative body of Kurdish militias controlling the northeast, reached a deal with the US oil company Delaware-based Delta Crescent Energy LLC. The company will manage oil trading in the territory controlled by US-backed Kurdish forces and modernize the oil fields that they and the US-led coalition currently control.
Kurdish militias and US troops control a larger part of the Syrian oil resources, including al-Rmelan and al-Omar oil fields. The development of the cooperation between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the US in the field of oil business is setting conditions for a further separation of the territories controlled by US-backed forces from the rest of Syria.