At least 19 people were killed on Tuesday in clashes between jihadists and rebels in northern Syria. "The fighting, pitting Al-Qaeda-linked coalition Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) against an alliance of rebel groups, flared in western Aleppo province,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. HTS had on Monday accused rebel group Nureddine al-Zinki of killing five of its fighters, and launched an offensive against rebel positions close to the country's last opposition bastion in the northwestern province of Idlib. Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based Observatory, said 12 HTS fighters and five from the Zinki group had been killed, along with two civilians. A further 35 people were wounded, he said.
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Nureddine al-Zinki is a major player in the National Liberation Front (NLF), a Turkish-backed rebel alliance.
HTS and other jihadist groups dominate more than half of Idlib province, while the NLF holds most of the rest.
Earlier, Last week, Trump surprised the world and his country as well when he suddenly announced that the US is pulling out its troops from Syria. "In Syria, Erdogan said he wants to knock out ISIS, whatever's left, the remnants of ISIS. And Saudi Arabia just came out and said they are going to pay for some economic development. Which is great, that means we don't have to pay. We are spread out all over the world. We are in countries most people haven't even heard about. Frankly, it's ridiculous," Trump added.
Trump's sudden decision sparked turmoil in his administration, prompting the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, as well as of Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-IS coalition.
Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State group, resigned in protest over President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, a US official said, joining Defence Secretary Jim Mattis in an administration exodus of experienced national security figures.
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McGurk had said it would be "reckless" to consider IS defeated and therefore would be unwise to bring American forces home. McGurk decided to speed up his original plan to leave his post in mid-February. Appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2015 and retained by Trump, McGurk said in his resignation letter that the militants were on the run, but not yet defeated, and that the premature pullout of American forces from Syria would create the conditions that gave rise to IS.