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At least two killed after clashes erupt between Syrian rebel groups

Fighting broke out between the al-Qaeda-linked HTS and Turkish-backed rebels [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2019

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Rival rebel groups in northern Syria have blamed each other for triggering a clash on Tuesday in the country's northern province of Aleppo.

Clashes have broken out between two powerful rebel groups in northern Syria, leaving at least two people dead.

The al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, also known as the Levant Liberation Committee, and the Turkey-backed Nour el-Din el-Zinki group blamed each other for triggering Tuesday's fighting in the northern province of Aleppo.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media says the al-Qaida-linked fighters captured the villages of Taqad, Saadiyah and Habata. It added that fighting is ongoing in the town of Daret Azzeh.

HTS says Nour el-Din el-Zinki militants shot dead five people, including four of its fighters, last week.

The clashes are the first between the two former allies since they reached a deal to end similar fighting in October.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says two civilians were killed.

Syria's nearly eight-year-old conflict saw its lowest annual death toll in 2018 as the regime reasserted its authority over swathes of territory, according to the SOHR.

The Observatory says that Syria's government and its allies now control 60.2 percent of the country's territory, while the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed Kurdish-led rebel group, holds 28.8 percent.

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