On Tuesday, four rebel factions in the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement joined Faylaq al-Rahman in the western countryside of Aleppo, following victories by al-Qaeda-linked militants against Turkish-backed fighters in northern Syria.
The rebel groups refused to leave the Afrin region after a humiliating surrender to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham that pushed the al-Zinki group to leave its areas in the western countryside of Aleppo and parts of Idleb.
Earlier this month, members of Tahrir al-Sham took control of Idleb province and the surrounding countryside after forcing rival insurgents to accept a deal for a civil administration run by Tahrir al-Sham in their areas.
The developments threaten to derail a cease-fire in the area reached in September between Turkey and Russia that averted a potentially catastrophic regime army assault on Idleb.
The deal required militant groups to vacate a frontline buffer zone, a move that was never implemented by Tahrir al-Sham militants.
The Syrian regime has repeatedly threatened to launch an offensive to recapture Idleb province, which is packed with 3 million people, including many who were displaced from other parts of the country.
The latest advances by the Tahrir al-Sham, which include many foreign militants, raise questions over the future of the deal.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.