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Terrorists in Syria Launch Offensive Against Groups Taking Part in Astana Talks

© AFP 2021 / Omar haj kadourFighters from the former Al-Nusra Front -- renamed Fateh al-Sham Front after breaking from Al-Qaeda -- advance at an armament school after they announced they seiged control of two military academies and a third military position on August 6, 2016, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said
Fighters from the former Al-Nusra Front -- renamed Fateh al-Sham Front after breaking from Al-Qaeda -- advance at an armament school after they announced they seiged control of two military academies and a third military position on August 6, 2016, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said - Sputnik International
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Heavy fighting broke out on Tuesday in northwestern Syria between a major jihadist organization, formerly known as the Nusra Front, and more moderate rebel groups.

A Kurdish fighter from the People's Protection Units (YPG) carries his weapon as he stands past a tank in the Ghwairan neighborhood of Hasakah, Syria, August 22, 2016. - Sputnik International
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The clashes reportedly began after the jihadists, now called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, attacked a base belonging to the Jaish al-Mujahideen faction, one of the rebel groups fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

According to Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reporting on the conflict, Fateh al-Sham appeared to believe that the rebels were providing coordinates for airstrikes recently launched against the former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

"It's an open war on the Nusra Front," Abdulrahman said, adding that the morning attack triggered further battles that continued Tuesday afternoon along the border between Idlib province, under control of Fateh al-Sham, and northern Aleppo province.

The ongoing conflict, between the jihadist group and other rebel forces, has increased, after Syrian government forces backed by Russian air power liberated Aleppo last month. In a statement, Jaish al-Mujahideen called for other factions to "stand as if they are one man" against Fateh al-Sham.

Delegations of Russia, Iran and Turkey hold talks on Syrian peace at a hotel in Astana, Kazakhstan, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 - Sputnik International
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On the same day the battle began, representatives from the Syrian government and opposition factions wrapped up peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, organized jointly by Russia, Turkey and Iran. The meeting ended with the parties agreeing on a mechanism to lock in a delicate ceasefire that came into effect on December 30, 2016.

The truce has largely held since that time, although both sides have accused each other of violations.

The Nusra Front changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham after announcing in 2016 that it was severing its ties with al Qaeda. It is still listed internationally as a terrorist group.    

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