NEW YORK - Moderate Syrian rebels are engaged in their fiercest fighting to date with al-Qaida-affiliated fighters on Syria's northern and eastern borders, a senior US State Department official said on Tuesday.
"There is a real firefight," the official said of battles between al-Qaida's Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Free Syrian Army led by Salim Idriss, a more moderate group of rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The official said the Free Syrian Army, which receives non-lethal US support, was bringing in reinforcements and he said the State Department was looking at what more it might do to help the group, although he gave no details.
Clashes pitting the al-QaIda-linked ISIL and Nusra Front brigades against less effective but more moderate rebel forces have been intensifying recently, especially in opposition-held territory along Syria's northern and eastern borders.
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