Al-Qaida-linked fighters, Syria rebels clash again near Turkey

October 2, 2013 14:29

BEIRUT - Syrian rebels and al-Qaida-linked fighters battled near the border with Turkey on Wednesday, activists said, in an outbreak of violence that exposes serious divisions between factions fighting President Bashar Assad.

The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took control of the border town of Azaz last month, kicking out rival rebels and prompting Turkey to shut its border crossing about 5 km (3 miles) away.

ISIL, which wants to merge Syria into a larger state ruled by Islamic law, has maintained control of the town since then and clashes have periodically erupted between them and fighters of the Northern Storm brigade they expelled to its outskirts.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of sources across the country, said heavy clashes had resumed on Wednesday between the two groups.

It said there were reports ISIL fighters were advancing toward Northern Storm bases and checkpoints near the crossing into Turkey and in villages in the outskirts of Azaz.

An activist in the area confirmed fighting had started, but did not have details.

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