A journalist who has long been covering developments along the Turkey-Syria border said that Bab al-Hawa and Bab al-Salma are considered as the terrorist groups’ two main sources of revenue through which they have been in contact with the outside world.
The journalist added that terrorists have been doing their entire business and transactions via these two border passageways.
In the meantime, Charles Lister, a researcher in Brookings Center, said that Bab al-Hawa border passageway is of significant importance for Ahrar al-Sham, because such border crossings are totally very good sources of income, receiving dispatched aid and logistic cargoes for terrorists to gain more power.
“Ahrar al-Sham, via imposing and levying taxes on people, business and aid convoys that have been going through this border crossing, has gained hundreds of millions of dollar. Estimating the exact amount of their gain is difficult due to the non-stop traffic of convoys and people,” the journalist went on to say.
Yet, several media sources have estimated the profit of Bab al-Hawa border crossing for Ahrar al-Sham as much as five million dollars each month.
On the other hand, some locals have underlined that incomes of this border passageway have been owned by the commanders of Ahrar. The commanders have invested huge amounts of money in Turkey. These commanders have prepared the ground for themselves to escape to Turkey as soon as the army expands its rule over more Ahrar-held regions.
One of the members of Ahrar al-Sham that had previously escaped to the border town of Gaziantep Turkey disclosed that these militants have been highly backed by Qatari and Turkish military and monetary supports.
He further added that Turkey-linked Humanitarian Relief Fund and Qatar Charity Society have been two main organizations that have rendered full support for Ahrar al Sham in the several last years.
Except for the mentioned income sources of Bab al-Hawa border crossing to Turkey and Qatar, Ahrar al-Sham has also looted Syria’s Central Back Branch in Raqqa.
In spite of these huge sources of income Ahrar al-Sham’s fighters are complaining about earning less than 40 dollars each month as their salary.
Militant groups-affiliated sites also disclosed that the 400 monthly payments to the families of Ahrar al-Sham’s fighters have been cut in the last one or two months, indicating that commanders of the militants are getting ready to flee to Turkey with the money they have collected.
The General Staff of Syria’s Armed Forces said in September that the recent advances of the Syrian army and popular forces in Aleppo caused scores of terrorist groups’ commanders and religious leaders to leave the militants alone in the battlefield and move to Turkey with a large amount of stolen funds.
“Religious and military leaders of Jeish al-Fatah coalition are fleeing the battlefields in Aleppo. It is a long time that they have been trapped in Aleppo districts. They are hopeless. They are fleeing to Turkey with the money they received from the backers of the terrorist groups and the money they took by force from civilians in Aleppo,” the General Staff the Syrian Armed Forces said.
In the meantime, one of the commanders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), in an audio file, disclosed that a number of commanders of the terrorist groups left their forces alone and have Escaped to Turkey.
“You commanders, who stole a large amount of people’s money and fled the battlefields, you have been trading the Syrian people’s blood,” the audio file said, adding, “Where are the religious leaders of the militants fleeing now, those who once claimed they were close to the God.”