Splintered al-Qaida rebels extend fighting in Syria

Clashes continue between Islamist fighters from Nusra Front - the official al-Qaida branch in Syria - and breakaway faction ISIL.

By REUTERS
May 18, 2014 21:32
1 minute read.
A fighter from the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra

Islamist Nusra Front fighter in Syria 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Fighting continues to rage between Iraq and breakaway al-Qaida faction Levant that reportedly seeks to form a continuous land link between Iraq and Syria, and the official al-Qaida branch in Syria, the Nusra Front.

Clashes continued between the two groups in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group on Sunday.

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If Levant (ISIL) can take the oil rich region, it will control territory across Syria and into Iraq.

“In the event that ISIL is able to defeat the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamist factions fighting alongside it in the areas east of Jadid Aghiadat in Deir al-Zor, this will be the first geographic link between Syria and Iraq,” the head of the Syrian Observatory told Asharq al-Awsat.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been helped by the multiple fractures in rebel ranks.

“Bashar has the upper hand on the ground. As long as the FSA [Free Syrian Army] exists, he will always have the upper hand,” said a fighter from ISIL, highlighting the mutual animosity that plagues Assad’s enemies.

ISIL’s rebel opponents say the group is more intent on carving out a jihadist heartland in rebel territory than on fighting Assad. He, in turn, has carefully avoided targeting ISIL in government air strikes, they say.

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