liberation northern Syria Feb 2020
© AFP 2019 / GEORGE OURFALIAN
Deals between terrorist groups, salary slips for radical fighters, the arrest records of a mock justice system are some of the many documents found by a Sputnik correspondent while exploring areas in northern Syria that were recently liberated from terrorist rule.

The documents seemingly left behind after a hurried exit during the approach of government forces, shed light on the reign of terror exacted on the local civilian population.

Blood Contracts

A contractual agreement found in a makeshift prison -a former shopping mall - in the town of Hraytan just north of Aleppo, dictated an agreement whereby a local subsidiary of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham* terrorist organisation, Fursan al-Khilafah, was to buy the war services of another, smaller group which calls itself Kitabat Ansar.

The document stipulated that the latter would be paid a wage and receive a share of the loot. Fursan al-Khalifah also promised to treat Kitabat Ansar's injured and pay compensation for those who would be killed.

The dry tone in which the agreement spoke about payments for battles, guarantees of treatment in case of injury, and payments to the group in case of death in action, point to the cold disregard for human life and the purely transactional approach warlords displayed to fighting.
Turkish military vehicles Bab al-Hawa crossing

Turkish military vehicles enter the Bab al-Hawa crossing at the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib governorate, Syria, February 9, 2020
Several pointers in the contract describe the sharing of loot, with the Fursan entitled to two-thirds while the Ansar could claim one-third of all that is captured in battle.

It is unknown if the deal was ever agreed upon as the contract bore no signatures.

Another document included reports on salaries paid to militants in training camps and deals which confirm the former dominant presence of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The financial reports listed hundreds of people who were trained in the Ibn Taymiyyah camp near Aleppo, which is known as one of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham's largest training facilities.

Instead of referring to the militants by their first and last names, the documents only mentioned their nom-de-guerres, such as Abu Bakar Ansari, Abu Maleki and so on. The reports also included the year of birth and the amount of money paid to each militant — 20,000-25,000 Syrian pounds (about $39-$49) on average.

The code names help determine the approximate origin of some militants and understand if someone, for example, comes from Syria or is a foreign mercenary.

According to the Syrian military, leaders of terrorist organisations have long replaced real names with code names, thereby cutting off newcomers' ties with their pasts.

The Syrian government forces fighting against terrorists believe that such documents once again confirm that terrorist leaders use people for their financial benefit under the guise of heavily distorted religious values.

Kangaroo Courts

Another set of documents illustrated the twisted "justice" system that people living under the rule of radical militants were forced to endure.

Meticulously kept legal records show a peculiar interpretation of Islamic law - known as Sharia - which allowed the local self-proclaimed judiciary to jail people on accusations of flirtation, quarrelling and other minor transgressions.
Syrian rebel fighters Qaminas
© AFP 2019 / OMAR HAJ KADOUR
Syrian rebel fighters gather around the burning remains of a military helicopter after it was shot down over the village of Qaminas, about 6 kilometres southeast of Idlib city in northwestern Syria on February 11, 2020
One record detailed a directive to release a man from jail, dated August 2, 2015 — during the heyday of the Daesh* terror group. The man, born in 1975, was accused of a crime described as "flirting via Whatsapp."

The document haul also included a handwritten letter under the heading "Request for Mercy," and appeared to have been penned by a former inmate who had spent six months behind bars and suffered 50 cane strikes.

The letter pleaded to return his confiscated belongings, including a laptop which he explained as necessary for his livelihood, repairing mobile phones.

Details of judicial procedures or law enforcement, to whatever degree that may have been practised by the terrorist overlords, remain unknown as no such records were found.

Regaining Control

Before the war, Aleppo was Syria's largest city, a bustling mercantile city which more than five million people called home. It fell under rebel control in 2012 and had changed hands several times since, with each rebel group more radical and destructive than the last.


Comment: To get a better idea of the devastation, see: Western shock doctrine: The unimaginable scale of devastation in Aleppo


Although the central government had regained control over much of Aleppo by 2017, the plentiful outskirts of the city to the north and west remained stubbornly under rebel control.

Local Aleppines had to endure haphazard mortar shelling and hidden explosives which killed and maimed scores in the years since.

With the push to regain control of the last rebel strongholds starting late last year, Damascus' Syrian Arab Army was able to sweep the remaining groups out of the regions surrounding Aleppo.

Syrian army liberation of Jaranjaz

Soldiers of Syrian army are seen after the liberation of Jaranjaz town from militants, northwestern province of Idlib, Syria. Due to the location of Jarjanaz, this will enable the army to take control over the important Hama-Aleppo road in Idlib, which remains a terrorist stronghold.
The military advances mean the government has regained control over the key Aleppo International Airport. The push westward into the Idlib province has given the government control over the entire M5 highway linking Damascus to Aleppo.

The airport received its first flight in eight years last week, a Syrian Air jet carrying 120 people from Damascus. It is set to resume international flights in the near future.

* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (al-Nusra front) are terrorist organisations banned in Russia.