News / Middle East

More Suffering For Syria as Jihadists Battle

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) patrolling in Raqqa, Syria.
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) patrolling in Raqqa, Syria.
At least 2,300 rebels and jihadists have been slain in the past month battling each other in northern Syria, and with both of the warring sides scoring successes and suffering setbacks there are few signs that either is ready for a truce, say analysts.
 
The rebel infighting erupted in early January between a loose alliance of moderates and Islamists and the ruthless jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a onetime al-Qaida affiliate, also commonly known as ISIS.
 
The internecine rebel struggle has weakened the three-year-long uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, allowing government forces to launch offensives around the city of Aleppo and in the mountainous Qalamon region near the border with Lebanon.
 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week admitted in an interview with the American cable news channel CNN that Bashar al-Assad has gained ground militarily in recent weeks. “It’s fair to say that Assad has improved his position a little bit, yes,” acknowledged Kerry.
 
But the American politician insisted the Syrian President “is still not winning.”
 
ISIS fighters triggered the war within the civil war after carrying out a string of assassinations of high-profile moderate and Islamist rebel commanders. Disputes over territory and the division of captured and smuggled weapons added further motives to the clash, say rebel commanders. The rough justice—including beheadings and floggings—meted out to civilians by mainly foreign ISIS fighters for infractions of their strict Sharia law code prompted increasing anger across rebel-held towns in northern Syria.
 
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the UK-headquartered anti-Assad monitoring group that relies for its information on a network of Syria-based activists, ISIS has lost about half of its bases across northern Syria and Monday the jihadist group withdrew from parts of Syria’s oil-rich eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, one of their strongholds, after three days of fighting.
 
ISIS activists said on the social media site Twitter that they only pulled out to prevent further bloodshed but on their withdrawal opposition activists say the jihadists summarily executed an unspecified number of detainees, including a judge. Rebel fighters are also reported to have done the same to a number of ISIS militants captured during the fighting, says the Syrian Observatory.
 
But while ISIS suffered setback in Deir ez-Zor the group has managed to regain full control of another one of its strongholds, the town of Raqqa, according to Al Hayat newspaper.
 
Analysts argue the rebel infighting that has been marked by seesawing battles has some way to go before a conclusion may be reached. ISIS fighters have been adept at employing hit-and-run tactics, including suicide bombings, and withdrawing when outnumbered only to return to positions later when their foes have reduced their forces. Strategic withdrawals and returns have been seen in the towns of Jarabulus and al-Bab and also parts of Eastern rural Aleppo.
 
Says Charles Lister, a terrorism expert with the U.S. think tank the Brookings Institution, “ ISIS is already days into a deadly and strategically effective campaign of suicide and car bombings targeting its opponents. Such targeted attacks, particularly in northern Syria, have been aimed at weakening opponents’ key strategic strong points and command and control structures.”
 
He adds: “In the immediate term, all of this is damaging to the Syrian revolution. Any extent of inter-factional fighting simply represents the expenditure of valuable resources on objectives distinct from fighting the Assad government. So long as it continues, these inter-group hostilities make any kind of provincial, let alone national, opposition victory in Syria highly unlikely.”
 
Last week, al-Qaida’s top leadership took the unprecedented step with an affiliate and disavowed ISIS, saying in an announcement posted online that it no longer had any connections with the group and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has clashed publicly with al-Qaida’s overall leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
 
Another al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, remained initially on the sidelines in the rebel infighting but has recently joined in the battles against ISIS and on February 9 its leader ordered his fighters to redouble their efforts against their former comrades. His order was posted on jihadi websites.
 
With the rebel infighting continuing apace U.S. Senator John McCain has urged the Obama administration to do more to assist moderate insurgents in Syria with arms supplies.
 
But analyst Paul Pillar, a former CIA official and now a professor at Georgetown University in Washington DC, has urged caution. “There is little the West can do to induce greater moderation among the Syrian rebels,” he says. “Hard-core jihadists will continue to be exactly that no matter what Western powers do.  The fact that they populate some of the most effective groups in waging war against the regime reflects a common pattern in civil wars in which the most zealous participants, who also tend to be the ones with most extreme views, are the most effective in fighting.”

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ALI BABA from: NEW YORK
February 11, 2014 6:09 PM
THE SYRIAN REBEL has to put their arm and let peace process end the conflict. it looks that we are dealing with punch of psychopath who refuse to understand that their action inflict a lot of suffering . this is the reality of Islam. they did it in Sudan . they did it in Libya .they did it in afghisstan .welcome to the barbaric madness of stone age

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid