On the evening of December 9, 2018, the incident took place near the city of Saraqib, close to one of the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham/HTS checkpoints

On the evening of December 9, 2018, a woman died, and a man got injured while escaping a kidnapping operation, undertaken by unidentified gunmen on the International Highway (Abu al-Duhur Highway), near the city of Saraqib, Idlib, according to a testimony obtained by Syrians for Truth and Justice/STJ.

Mohammad Abdulghani al-Rouji, the 24-year-old man who survived the attempted kidnapping, spoke to STJ’s field researcher in the area. He said:

“My mother-in-law and I were heading to my house. When we took the Abu al-Duhur-Saraqib road, I was taken aback by an armed group, which tried to stop me. It was around 8:30 pm. I was aware that there was not a military checkpoint at this part of the road. On the contrary, the checkpoint that exists in the area is affiliated to the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham/HTS and is almost 1km behind. We were heading west, I, thus, started to suspect that the group is a kidnapping gang. So, I decide not to pull over and drove the car a little faster. The chase began, and an insane shooting targeted the car. I tried to escape and that was when my mother-in-law got injured. I also got injured, in a manner that rendered me unable to drive. However, I continued until I reached the house of a friend, located near the incident’s place. We were rushed to the hospital for immediate treatment. But the unexpected happened; my mother-in-law died affected by her injury.” 

STJ’s field researcher reported that al-Rouji is originally from al-Rouj Plain and has been based in the city of Saraqib for about 20 years. He works in the field of currency exchange and is considered one of the city’s wealthy people. In addition to this, there is a checkpoint, affiliated to HTS at kilometer’s distance from the incident and the shooting’s location, called the al-Khatib Filling Station checkpoint. The researcher also pointed out to the dense fog on the incident’s evening.

Kidnappings have already taken place in the two provinces of Idlib and Hama, while the kidnappers are still unidentified, which to cover STJ published detailed reports on several cases[1].


[1] “Relief Worker Alaa al-Elaiwi Escapes His Kidnappers 32 Days after His Abduction in Idlib”, Syrians for Truth and Justice, October 25, 2018, (Last visit: January 25, 2019). https://stj-sy.com/ar/view/907.

 “Unidentified Gunmen Kidnap Relief Worker for Ransom in Southern Idlib”, Syrians for Truth and Justice, October 5, 2018, (Last Visit: January 25, 2019). https://stj-sy.com/ar/view/831.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Kidnapping Civilians Idlib

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