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.

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)

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.

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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