Syria rebels in Latakia: al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra in, ISIS out

Syria rebels in Latakia: al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra in, ISIS out
Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:53:12

Militant groups in Syria’s Latakia region have joined together to expel ex-partners from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) nearly two weeks after al-Qaeda chief disbanded them and picked al-Nusra Front as group’s official force on the Syria fighting ground.

The London-based daily Asharq Al-Awsat quoted unnamed sources that the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and independent militant groups have joined forces against the ISIS to force the group out of the area and ensure the surrender of its leader Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi.

According to the paper, the sources said that the decision followed ISIS refusal to abide by agreements reached in efforts to mediate in recent clashes between armed militant groups in the area.

The militants fear these clashes “may lead to a wide war between the two sides.”

This followed an attempt last week to assassinate Abu Rahhal, commander of the “Hijra to Allah” brigades, which is affiliated to the FSA, resulting in the death of his bodyguard.

Sources said the clashes erupted when a checkpoint manned by Abu Rahhal’s group stopped armed members of ISIS in a car, leading to an armed clash between the two sides.

ISIS which came to Syria as al-Qaeda’s offshoot was disbanded by terrorist group’s chief Aymen al-Zawahiri on November 8th.

"The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is to be abolished, while the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) remains functioning," Zawahiri said adding that the Al-Nusra Front in Syria will be "an independent branch of Al-Qaeda that reports to the general command."

Meanwhile, the Al-Nusra Front took charge of negotiations on a prisoner exchange between the FSA and ISIS, and issued a deadline for implementation.

The sources said that that “the deadline was long and may even extend to weeks, in order to stop the bloodshed and end the fighting between the two sides.”

They further said “the situation in the area is still tense, and a solution has not yet been found,” warning that “if ISIS failed to surrender its emir, Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi, the two sides will fight again, and a huge war will ensue.”

They added that FSA leaders and other activists in the region mediated between the two sides, and received a promise from the emir of the ISIS group, Abu Ayman Al-Iraqi to “ensure the safety of FSA prisoners held by his group”. But “the next day, six prisoners… held by ISIS were found dead in Al-Shaghr village in the Jisr Al-Shughour area, with signs of torture and following a public execution.”

Syria militants have been suffering from deadly infighting for months, not just over power struggles, but over small amounts of money and goods mugged from people’s houses following their attacks.

A recent study by the British defense consultancy showed that militants fighting against Syria now number around 100,000 fighters, which are fragmented into around 1,000 bands.

The war in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.

According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the turmoil that has gripped Syria for over two years.


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