Rebels expand control in Syria’s Idlib
January 9, 2019 | 10:36 PM
by AFP
A damaged neighbourhood in the rebel-controlled area in Idlib province, Syria. Photo - Reuters file

Beirut: Rebels inched forward in Syria’s last major opposition bastion Wednesday as a deal with rival rebels saw them expand their control to three-quarters of the stronghold, a monitor said.

Hayat Tahrir Al Sham(HTS), which is led by extremists of Syria’s former Al Qaeda affiliate, has been gaining ground against rival rebels in the Idlib region inrecent days.

The opposition bastion near the Turkish border includes a large part of the province of Idlib, as well as parts of the neighbouring provinces of Aleppo and Hama.

HTS on Wednesday gained control of an area on the Idlib-Hama provincial border under a deal with rival rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“HTS on Wednesday took control of Sahl Al Ghab and Jabal Shahshabo under a deal with” rival rebels, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said, referring to the agricultural plain and adjacent highlands.

After Wednesday’s accord, the extremist-led alliance now controls around 75 per cent of the Idlib region, the head of the Britain-based monitor said.

A rival alliance of rebels called the National Liberation Front (NLF) controls around 20 per cent, he said.

Other extremists are present in the remaining five per cent of the region.

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