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Is this beginning of the end for Idlib's jihadi groups?

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is facing several setbacks in Idlib including internal discord as foreign powers plan a military offensive against them.
A picture taken on March 22, 2017 near the town of Maardes in the countryside of the central Syrian province of Hama, shows an armoured vehicle carrying rebel fighters, and bearing the flag of the Tahrir al-Sham rebel alliance. / AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour        (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

The sixth round of Astana talks Sept. 15 were marked by an agreement between Iran, Russia and Turkey on a fourth Syrian de-escalation zone in Idlib and the deployment of about 1,500 observers in the northern region. Experts interviewed by Al-Monitor have spoken of a joint military operation between the three powers motivated by various geopolitical considerations.

This comes against the backdrop of attempts by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), al-Qaeda’s former affiliate, to secure its position by infiltrating local councils and rallying prominent figures in Idlib. HTS is, according to sources, under increasing pressure following a string of defections and assassinations.

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