After almost a solid week of losses at the hands of al-Qaeda, the
Turkey-backed National Liberation Front has reached a deal with al-Qaeda
on a 15-day truce.
Both seem to be expecting this to lead to more fighting, and are using
it to shore up their forces on their new frontier with one another.
That fighting is likely to be at the important Idlib Province city of Maarat al-Numaan, as the truce was reached just as al-Qaeda was approaching the outskirts, but before the city itself could be attacked.
The fighting between the two sides began early last week. According to al-Qaeda, the Nureddin al-Zimki, one of the NLF members, attacked them and killed some of their members. Over the next week, counterattacks saw al-Qaeda seize roughly 25 towns and villages.
Maarat al-Numaan is on the main road connecting Aleppo and Hama, and is subsequently of considerable value to the rebels, or to the government. Though so far the Syrian government has not intervened, there is growing expectation that further al-Qaeda gains would virtually oblige them to move in and prevent al-Qaeda from getting too big.
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