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Defections threaten Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib

The internal differences in Hayat Tahrir al-Sham push its most prominent leaders to defect, and a clash with al-Qaeda’s Guardians of Religion Organization may accelerate the defections.

ALEPPO, Syria — On April 19, minor clashes broke out in the town of Armanaz in the northwestern countryside of Idlib between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and al-Qaeda’s Guardians of Religion Organization (GRO). The dispute arose between the two after HTS members tried to close the GRO headquarters in the town and expel its members from it.

The GRO accuses HTS of attempting to push its members out of the towns and cities of Idlib’s western and northern countryside, which is an area close to the Syrian-Turkish border. Tensions remain between the two sides, and may at any moment evolve into a broader military clash, despite calls by Abu Mohammed al-Sudani, a senior GRO leader, to negotiate and resolve the dispute peacefully.

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