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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs