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Is Turkey using HTS to strengthen its hand in Syria?

Amid Ankara’s overtures to Damascus, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham — the radical group controlling Idlib — has seized Afrin and is seeking a deal to expand its control further into territories held by factions allied with Turkey.
Members of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group bring reinforcements.
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A dramatic shift of control has been underway in Afrin and other areas held by Turkish-backed groups in northwestern Syria since last week, raising questions about Ankara’s calculus in its quest to mend fences with Damascus.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the radical group that controls Idlib province and is designated as a terrorist group, aligned with factions from the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) — the Hamza Division, the Sultan Suleyman Shah Division and Ahrar al-Sham — to storm into Afrin, the Kurdish-majority city that Turkey had seized in Operation Olive Branch in 2018. HTS and its partners ousted the Sham Front and Jaish al-Islam from the area on Oct. 13. The two groups make the backbone of the Third Legion, which is also part of the SNA. 

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