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Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army talks security with HTS in Idlib

Sources in the Syrian opposition have revealed contacts between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and some of the Turkish-allied Free Syrian Army factions on security of the areas under the control of the FSA.
Syrian fighters attend a mock battle in anticipation of an attack by the regime on Idlib province and the surrounding countryside, during a graduation of new Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) members at a camp in the countryside of the northern Idlib province on August 14, 2018. (Photo by OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Syrian opposition sources have revealed that contacts are taking place between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions in north Syria to hand over the security of some areas to HTS. The rumored deal would involve the Turkish-backed FSA tampering down some of its rhetoric against HTS in exchange for allowing the extremist group to oversee security in certain areas. It's unclear if the FSA would maintain forces in the areas in which the HTS takes control of.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Rahal, who defected from the Syrian regime, tweeted Feb. 19, “HTS emirs have repeatedly visited the Olive Branch areas to work out their relations with FSA leaders amid reports whereby the FSA has decided to prevent any media attacks against HTS leaders. There are also talks that the security of all liberated areas will be handed over to HTS after the failure of the military, security and judicial leadership there.”

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