Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria is a menacing force, overpowering moderate rebels even as it battles government troops. But in recent weeks, Jabhat al-Nusra has provoked a backlash that appears to be undermining its formidable power.

Residents of opposition-held Idlib province in northwestern Syria have protested the group’s heavy-handed tactics. Its fighters have been forced to withdraw from a town in the area because of mounting anger over their attack on a popular U.S.-supported rebel group and attempts to disrupt anti-government rallies.

Syria’s messy civil war has empowered Jabhat al-Nusra and other radicals, but analysts say the unusual outburst of frustration against the Islamist group signals that moderate voices have not been silenced.

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