Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) announced on May 18 that the “largest batch ever” of its special forces, dubbed the “Red Bands,” has completed its training.
The terrorist group held a graduation ceremony for the new special forces personnel, who were trained to carry out raids, Inghimasi [suicide] attacks and sabotage operations. The ceremony was attended by the group’s top military leader.
Furthermore, HTS announced on March 20 that some of its regular units have completed a “military enhancement” training course.
The terrorist group released photos of the training course, which involved live fire drills. One of the photos shows the terrorists training with a Turkish-supplied M113 armored personnel carrier (APC).
It is no secret that HTS has been taking advantage of the new ceasefire in Greater Idlib, brokered by Russia and Turkey on March 5, to rebuild its military capabilities.
Last March, HTS launched a large recruitment campaign to revive its depleted special forces and Inghimasi force. The group also stepped up the training of new recruits and expanded its forces with three new brigades.
This military buildup is a sign that HTS is not willing to respect the March 5 agreement. In fact, the terrorist group is clearly preparing for a new military confrontation with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies.