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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs