Syria’s Main Insurgent Group Condemns US Embassy Over Criticism of Protest Crackdown
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff Writer with Agencies

DAMASCUS, Syria — The primary insurgent group in rebel-held northwest Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), sharply criticized the United States on Thursday following U.S. condemnation of the group’s crackdown on protesters in regions beyond Syrian government control. HTS argued that Washington should instead show respect for protesters at American universities who have been demonstrating against the war in Gaza.

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus stated after months of ongoing protests in Idlib province against HTS, a group that evolved from the Nusra Front, the former Syrian branch of al-Qaida. Despite several name changes and efforts to distance itself from al-Qaida, HTS continues to face significant opposition within the areas it controls.

Anti-HTS sentiments have been escalating over recent months, fueled by a series of arrests targeting senior officials within the organization. Earlier this month, HTS members violently attacked protesters demanding the release of detainees outside a military court in Idlib City, using clubs and sharp objects, and injuring several people. Days later, HTS fighters fired into the air and beat protesters with clubs, further injuring individuals as the protests intensified.

The rebel-held northwest region of Syria is home to over 4 million people, many of whom have been displaced due to the conflict that began in March 2011. This conflict, initially sparked by protests against President Bashar Assad’s government, has escalated into a devastating civil war, resulting in the deaths of approximately half a million people and leaving vast parts of the country in ruins.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Damascus expressed its support for “the rights of all Syrians to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including in Idlib,” via a post on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter). The embassy’s statement deplored HTS’s “regime-style intimidation and brutality against peaceful protesters as they call for justice, security, & respect for human rights.”

In response, HTS released a statement asserting that the “liberated areas enjoy a safe environment for the expression of opinion” provided that such expressions do not aim to destabilize the region and spread chaos. HTS urged the U.S. Embassy to support the Syrian people in their pursuit of “freedom and dignity against a criminal regime.”

HTS also highlighted the importance of respecting the rights of university students in the United States who are advocating for the Palestinian people and Gaza. “The rights of university students in the United States should be preserved and their demands in supporting the Palestinian people and Gaza should be respected,” the group stated.

As the situation in Syria’s northwest remains tense, the international community continues to watch closely, with many calling for a peaceful resolution and respect for human rights amidst the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis.

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