Members of the Syrian opposition group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) in northern Syria have prevented a Turkish military column from entering the city of Darat Izza in the west of Aleppo province today, increasing the recently strained tensions between the two forces.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which cited activists local to the area, the HTS members stationed at the Al-Katoura checkpoint gathered around the Turkish military vehicles yesterday evening to block them from passing into the city.
The militia’s limitation of the movement of Turkish forces comes at a time when there are increased tensions between the two, particularly after fierce clashes over the weekend on the strategic M4 highway in Idlib where Turkish forces attempted to break up a protest, resulting in the killing of three HTS members and the injury of Turkish soldiers.
The incident was part of many recent protests that have been conducted on the highway by the local civil population who are opposed to the Russian military presence brought about by the joint Turkish-Russian military patrols as part of the ceasefire deal struck between Turkey and Russia on 5 March.
Since the incident, other forms of enmity between the group and Turkish forces have emerged, with SOHR sources reporting that HTS brought a wheel loader to the area of Maarat Al-Nasaan in order to remove a makeshift soil barrier that the Turkish army had erected yesterday. This soil barrier was put in place with the intention of blocking HTS vehicles and trucks from accessing a trade and commercial crossing which the group had planned to open in order to conduct trade with regime-held territories.
To help with this goal, Turkish forces also cut off all roads leading from the Aleppo countryside to Maarat Al-Nasaan while deploying military vehicles in order to prevent the passage of large vehicles belonging to HTS and other groups seeking to trade with the Syrian regime.