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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs