(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
BEIRUT - Clashes between rival insurgent groups broke out in Syria's Idlib region in some of the heaviest fighting between Islamist factions which hold sway in the northwestern province, war monitors reported on Wednesday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Hayat Tahrir al-Sham - a jihadist alliance that includes al Qaeda's former Syria branch - had attacked positions of Ahrar al-Sham, a more moderate rival Islamist group allied with mainstream rebel factions.
The clashes began late on Tuesday, the British-based Observatory said and an online statement from Ahrar al-Sham blamed Tahrir al-Sham for starting the violence.
The two sides clashed earlier this year in a long-standing fight for influence in Idlib, where insurgents maintain a stronghold even as much of the rest of western Syria has been recaptured by government forces and their allies.
Fighting had on Wednesday spread to areas across Idlib, including the town of Saraqeb in the east, Dana and Sarmada in the northeast and Bab al-Hawa near the Turkish border, the Observatory reported.