BEIRUT - Hundreds of rebels have pledged allegiance to al-Qaida-affiliated forces in northern and eastern Syria, activists and Islamist sources said on Friday, strengthening the group's control in the region.
Not only individual fighters, but entire units have joined the small but powerful al-Qaida-linked groups - the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - in recent days, according to the sources inside Syria.
"This is a sign the radical groups are still growing in power. This region could fall to the jihadists," said an activist in the eastern town of Raqqa, who asked not to be identified. "We may see this become a trend."
Clashes have been intensifying between Nusra or ISIL and the less effective but more moderate forces that make up the majority of opposition fighters, especially in opposition-held territory along Syria's northern and eastern borders.