This photo shows civil defense workers extinguishing a burning car after an explosion, in Idlib, Syria, Sunday, July 16, 2017. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
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A former al-Qaeda affiliate was locked in fierce clashes Friday with a leading rebel group for control of one of the last major parts of Syria not held by the regime.The clashes in Syria's Idlib province in the country's northwest pit the extremist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) against the key rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, which is supported by Turkey and some Gulf countries. The factions were once allies and fought alongside each other to capture most of Idlib province from the Syrian government in 2015 . The monitor said the fighting has so far killed at least 65 people, including 15 civilians.The clashes have been accompanied by sporadic demonstrations against HTS in several parts of the province, including in the town of Saraqeb where the extremist on Wednesday and Thursday opened fire on protests against them.HTS opposes the agreement, which calls for continued fighting against extremist groups like its main component Fateh al-Sham.
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