Last week, a Telegram chat between fighters of Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), arguably the most influential armed faction in Idlib province, revealed that a wage ceiling for a foot soldier in the group is a surprisingly low $80 a month. This amount of money is payed to the fighters stationed in Lattakia province, while HTS members in other regions receive even less than that.
Even the crudest analysis of the HTS income demonstrates that a wage this low is nothing but a blatant evidence of corruption among the group’s leadership.
For instance, a passing fee imposed by HTS for those who travel via Darat Izza checkpoint in Aleppo province is put at $80 that amounts to a monthly salary of a fighter if he is lucky enough to be at one of the HTS positions in Lattakia.
Each car bringing $80, daily income of a single checkpoint is measures up to a thousand dollars. HTS runs over a dozen checkpoints in Idlib and a number of others in Aleppo. Even more importantly, #HTS maintains control over Bab al Hawa, key border crossing to Turkey.
In addition to that, over the past few years HTS leadership figures have acquired multiple properties in Idlib, including restaurants, malls, money transfer centers and other venues.
All in all, daily income of #HTS measures in dozens, if not hundreds, of thousands dollars, which raises a question: where does all this money go? Substantial share is delegated to elite units and foreign fighters, who are payed more, but this does not account for everything.