Clashes break out between Syrian rebels and former al-Qaeda group in Idlib

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Rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army launch a rocket towards the regime-held Hama military airport. File photo: Reuters

ARA News

Idlib – Clashes broke out on Friday between Syrian rebel groups and al-Qaeda-splinter group of Fateh al-Sham in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Governorate.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, previously known as Nusra Front, clashed with foreign-backed rebel factions in the countryside of Idlib –where they both used to share power after the expulsion of Syrian regime’s forces nearly two years ago.

“Rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) attacked headquarters of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in southern Idlib, killing and wounding scores of extremists. The attack was followed by heavy clashes between the FSA and Fateh al-Sham,” local media activist Samer al-Sayyed told ARA News.

Idlib is considered one of the main Syrian governorates out of the regime’s control.

Both Fateh al-Sham and FSA rebels had formed a coalition to jointly run the regime-free Idlib Governorate. However, rifts erupted between both sides after the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham was listed by the West as a terrorist organization.

The US-led coalition and Russia have repeatedly targeted Fateh al-Sham’s positions in Idlib and western Aleppo, killing leading members of the group.

“Jabhat Fateh al-Sham has been trying to monopolise power in Idlib, excluding moderate rebel factions that have been supported by foreign countries to combat Assad regime,” rebel spokesman Salih al-Zein told ARA News.

“This radical group has been accusing the moderate anti-Assad rebels of being puppets in the hands of foreign powers, which is unacceptable,” the official said.

“Despite cutting ties with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham remains an extremist group that should be eliminated,” al-Zein said.

Also on Friday, Islamists of Fateh al-Sham shelled rebel-held districts in Idlib with mortar fire. The bombardment has reportedly resulted in civilian casualties.

Reporting by: Helin Saeed | Source: ARA News 

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