ISIS re-enters Syria’s Idlib after clashes: monitor

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The ISIS group has seized territory in Syria’s Idlib province after clashes with rival militants, nearly four years after being expelled from the region, a monitor said on Friday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIS had captured the village of Bashkun after clashes with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a force dominated by a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The capture comes after days of fighting between ISIS and HTS in neighburing Hama province, during which ISIS captured a string of villages in the northeast of the region, the Observatory said.

The capture of Bashkun puts ISIS back in Idlib nearly four years after it was first expelled from the province in northwestern Syria after battles with rival militants and rebel groups.

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ISIS has seen the so-called “caliphate” it declared in 2014 across parts of Syria and Iraq crumble in recent weeks, losing key cities such as Raqa and Mosul.

It now holds just a few patches of territory in Syria, and on Saturday Iraq’s prime minister declared the war against the jihadist group in his country was now over.

More than 340,000 people have been killed in Syria’s multi-faceted war since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011.