Idlib’s elected leaders have rejected attempts by the former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) to seize control of local services, in one of the strongest rebukes against the militant group since its takeover of the province.

In a statement on Tuesday, Idlib’s city council said it would not be abiding by orders from HTS to turn over control of bakeries, water and transport to the “civil administration of services,” a body controlled by the militants.

The council said it was “freely elected” by the people of Idlib and would not recognise the HTS order.

“Recently taken ‘civil adminstration of services’ decision and accelerated and successive steps, especially with regards to the departments of the Idlib city council are an attempt to make it submit to subordination, and the decisions were unilateral,” read the statement.

“Our people in Idlib … oh revolutionaries … oh Syrians everywhere … the Idlib city council will remain with you, it will not be dismissed and will not step down.”


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