BEIRUT - Several powerful Syrian rebel groups on Thursday demanded al- Qaida-linked militants and a rival rebel faction stop fighting and called on the hardline Islamists to withdraw their forces within 48 hours, a statement said.
The al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized Azaz, about 5 km (3 miles) from the frontier with Turkey, last month and has repeatedly clashed with the local Northern Storm brigade since then.A previous attempt by rebel groups to broker a truce between the two sides did not hold.
The fighting prompted Turkey to close its border crossing, a lifeline for Syria's rebel-held northern areas because it let refugees out and supplies like food and building materials in.
A statement posted online by four rebel brigades on Thursday called for an "immediate ceasefire" between the two sides and called on them to submit their dispute to an Islamic court in Aleppo, about 30 km (20 miles) to the south.
"We ask our brothers in the faction of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to withdraw their forces and equipment to their essential bases immediately," said the statement.
"We consider them above spilling the blood of Muslims or rushing to describe them as infidels and apostates."