Clashes between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) are ongoing in the northwestern countryside of Aleppo, within the demilitarized zone area established under a Turkish-Russian agreement in September.
According to reports, units of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham attacked NFL positions in the village of Kafr Hamra on October 29 and had gained full control of the area by the evening of October 30. Several NFL militants were killed or injured in the incident, according to local sources.
Over the past few months, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has continued expanding its influence in the parts of Aleppo, Idlib and Lattakia provinces, which are included in de-escalation agreements. While Ankara claims that it keeps the situation under control there, developments on the ground clearly shows that Turkey has reached a kind of deal with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham that allows the terrorist group to operate freely within the de-escalation zone.
These incidents once again demonstrate that while terrorist groups like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are not eliminated in the Idlib de-escalation zone there are little chances that security can be restored and a peaceful solution can be implemented in the area.