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Fateh al-Sham Prepares Militarily in Anticipation for Infighting Following Astana Talks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Militants of the Syrian rebel group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham cheer after a Russian helicopter was shot down in the north of Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province. Reuters

Beirut – Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, anticipated the outcomes of Astana talks that will be held on Monday by preparing militarily on large scale.

The group opened its spare warehouses and launched a workshop for booby-trapping vehicles, repairing armors and four-wheeled military vehicles in order to fight Syrian moderate opposition factions that accepted to participate in the conference.

Fateh al-Sham commenced implementing its schemes, aiming at deporting factions that constitute danger to it after Astana talks, by attacking brigades from Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib and sending military queue to the countryside to guarantee its forces stay close to military centers of “Fastaqim Kama Umirt Union” faction, which will participate in the talks.

In this matter, an opposing military source in the Free Syrian Army said that a military official from Fateh al-Sham confirmed that the extremist group, which is included in the international terrorism lists, fear the outcomes of Astana talks could seek mobilizing Syrian opposition forces to fight Fateh al-Sham.

The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the extremist official tried to camouflage the reasons by saying that these are “routine security procedures taken to protect the headquarters from the continued strikes by the international coalition.”

According to the same opposing official, “the case is different from what it seems to be like since Fateh al-Sham’s preparations in the north is taken from two perspectives.”

The first, he said, is defensive to protect headquarters and centers while the second is offensive to anticipate and possible attacks based on dismantling the organizations before attacking Fateh al-Sham.

He said that this is what Fateh al-Sham has done by attacking the headquarters of its supposed allies like Ahrar al-Sham on Thursday.

Usually, Fateh al-Sham touts the same tactic to attack suspected opponents proactively, and it is repeating what it has started in 2015 when it attacked “Syria Revolutionaries Front» movement and U.S.-backed “Hazzm” movement.