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Turkey faces tough options on Syrian rebel allies amid Damascus thaw

Ankara’s quest to restore ties with Damascus has left its Syrian rebel allies confused as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the jihadi group controlling Idlib, seeks to raise its profile and lure the disenchanted to its ranks.
OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP via Getty Images
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As the Turkish-Syrian dialogue advances and the prospect of Ankara pulling the plug on its Syrian allies looms large for the rebels, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the jihadi outfit holding sway in Idlib, appears eager to take advantage of the confusion in the rebels' ranks and expand its control.

Forces affiliated with the HTS-led al-Fatah al-Mubin operation room have mounted attacks along lines of contact with government troops in southern Idlib, northwestern Aleppo and northeastern Latakia, using infiltration tactics, according to Syrian press reports. Clashes reportedly intensified this week in the Jabal al-Zawiya area in southern Idlib, with al-Qaeda-linked groups such as Firqat al-Ghuraba and Ansar al-Tawhid also joining the fighting. The Syrian army sent reinforcements to several areas in southern and eastern Idlib as well as to Base 46 and a couple of towns to the west of Aleppo. 

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