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A last showdown looms over Syrian opposition stronghold

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Photographs by The Associated Press

This photo provided on Monday, July 22, 2018, by the al-Qaida-affiliated Ibaa News Network, purports to show militants of the al-Qaida-linked coalition known as Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee overlooking a battlefield in rural Lattakia, Syria. It's already being called the "mother of all battles," the last showdown between the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the opposition. Idlib province, in Syria's northwest, is the only significant opposition enclave still standing and Assad has vowed to retake it. The caption in Arabic reads: "A field visit by Sheik Abu Malik al-Shami (a leading member of the group) with field commanders to inspect an outpost for Mujahideen (holy fighters) in the coast area." (Ibaa News Network, via AP)

BEIRUT -- For nearly three years, green buses have filed into Syria's Idlib province, bringing those evacuated from other opposition enclaves that fell to government forces -- thousands of defeated rebel fighters, wanted activists and civilians who refused to go back under President Bashar Assad's rule.

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