Nearly 60 Killed in Intra-Rebel Fighting in NW Syria

Fighting rages between Turkey, al-Qaeda Islamists

Over the course of ten days, fighting has raged in NW Syria between Turkey-backed rebels and Islamists centering on al-Qaeda’s Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). 48 combatants and 10 civilians were killed.

HTS had its start early in the Syrian War as an al-Qaeda affiliate and rival to ISIS. ISIS tried to merge with them, unsuccessfully, and HTS has ended up in charge of an ever-shrinking territory around Idlib Province.

Turkey’s collection of rebels, organized to go after the Kurds, includes al-Qaeda-linked factions as well. With several groups fighting over less and less territory, the strikes are growing more aggressive.

Fighting in the area has civilians fleeing contested towns, as HTS seems to have the upper hand, and others are relocating to where the Turkey-backed rebels are based.

All the while, Syria’s army is looking to make inroads on HTS, with the argument against leaving the rebels alone tempered by the fact that they are al-Qaeda. Turkey has regularly condemned Syrian offensives, but HTS isn’t exactly on their side either, and remains a third faction in the war over Idlib.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of