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Islamist Fighters Withdraw from Syrian Town

An Islamic extremist group is reported to have begun pulling out of a rebel-held area of northern Syria, following an ultimatum from rival jihadi militants.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters withdrew from the town of Azaz and surrounding areas.

This week, the rival al-Nusra group, which is affiliated with al-Qaida, said it would force ISIL out of the area if it did not accept mediation by Islamic clerics following the death of a senior Islamist commander. The deadline expires Saturday.

ISIL is an al-Qaida breakaway group that took control of the town, located near the Turkish border, last year from other Syrian opposition fighters.

Months of fighting between various Islamist rebel groups in Syria has killed thousands of fighters and further splintered the already divided Syrian opposition, which is trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.



Meanwhile, Martin Nesirky, the spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, says the U.N. refugee agency provided an airlift of 31 tons of relief supplies in Syria, including vaccines for 250,000 people and medical equipment.

He said the agency also delivered a limited number of food parcels in Yarmouk before reports of gunfire at the distribution point forced the team to withdraw.

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