After imposing its control of the strategic town of Darat Izza, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) continued its advance in the western Aleppo countryside on January 2 and captured the villages of Kafrintin and Maklabis after heavy clashes with the Turkish-backed Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement.
According to Syrian opposition activists, Abu al-Yaqzan al-Masri, an infamous Egyptian scholar and military commander, is leading the attack against the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement. HTS, which is the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, launched the attack after accusing al-Zenki of assassinating four of its fighters last week.
Citing local sources, the Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV said that over 100 militants of HTS and the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement have been killed so far. Furthermore, many civilians have been reportedly injured and killed as both sides are shelling residential areas in western Aleppo.
Despite that HTS appears to be determined to neutralize the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, local observers believe that Turkey will facilitate a ceasefire agreement between the two groups soon, as it did during the previous rounds of infighting.