Ongoing fighting and threats from other rebel factions have al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) withdrawing from its smaller territorial possessions, and officials now say they have more or less abandoned the provinces of Idlib and Latakia.
AQI never had large footholds in either province, and Latakia was the first target of rival rebels Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front when they began infighting earlier this year.
AQI seems to have decided that they simply can’t afford to protect the small enclaves in those areas anymore, and has redeployed its troops back into Aleppo and Raqqa Provinces, which are their biggest strongholds.
This may also reflect the growing stabilization of northern Syria, where different factions are fighting more and more on the frontiers but are better able to secure their respective power bases. The war seems to be stalemating on several fronts now, with several distinct de facto “nations” now in existence, and no sign anyone has anywhere near the power to unify Syria by force.
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