Al-Qaida affiliate pull out of northern Syria strongholds

By REUTERS
January 5, 2014 16:22
1 minute read.

 
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AMMAN - An al-Qaida affiliate rebel group pulled out from strategic areas of northern Syria near the Turkish border on Sunday after coming under heavy fire from other Islamist brigades, opposition activists said.

Fighting erupted in the last few days between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaida division led by foreign jihadists, and other home-grown Islamist groups, including the al Nusra Front, another al-Qaida affiliate. The clash was a culmination of tensions over territory and spheres of influence in the region near a long border with Turkey.

The area is key to supplying rebels fighting President Bashar Assad. Units of the Western backed Free Syrian Army also took part in fighting against the ISIL.

But the pullout on Sunday, which included the ISIL stronghold of al Dana in Idlib province and the important supply line town of Atma involved no fighting, suggesting a possible deal to avoid a larger confrontations that would sap the strength of the two sides and play into the hands of Assad, opposition sources and Middle East diplomats said.

Fighters from the Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham militant group took over the ISIL positions in the two towns, activists in northern Syria said.

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