Syrian fighters attend a mock battle in anticipation of an attack by the regime on Idlib province and the surrounding countryside.
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The militant group now controlling Idlib province in northwest Syria claims to have broken with Al-Qaeda, but analysts say that despite several rebrandings there's no sign it has changed its stripes.The Nusra Front, the rebel faction which gave birth to HTS, announced in July 2016 it had broken with Al-Qaeda.A number of militant groups in Idlib still officially pay allegiance to Al-Qaeda, led by Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, since bin Laden's death.The group also includes members of the Turkistan Islamic Party, a militant group dominated by Uighur fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based activist group.The Nusra Front might have sought to distance itself from Al-Qaeda since an association would put its fighters in the crosshairs for U.S. airstrikes.
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