Opposition fighters stock up and prepare ammunition near Al-Tamanah, in Syria's northwestern rebel-held province of Idlib during ongoing fighting against government forces on January 2, 2018. / AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR
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As the threat of a full-fledged offensive looms large over Syria's Idlib, rebels say they are now readying for war.The NLF, formed in May this year, is a Syrian rebel coalition group in northwest Syria that receives major backing from Turkey.Affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, it includes more than a dozen opposition factions, including Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zinki, once allied with the extremist group Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham.Arguably the most significant of the rebel factions, HTS is thought to control some 60 percent of the opposition-held area in the northwest and refuses to join the coalition due to tensions with the FSA.Unlike in previous battles, such as Aleppo in 2016, many opposition groups are immensely unpopular with the civilian population in the northwest.In previous negotiations in then-opposition held areas, such as Eastern Ghouta, Homs and Deraa, there was the option for rebel fighters to be evacuated to Syria's northwest.
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