News / Middle East

    Syrian Rebel Alliance Battles al-Qaida-linked Fighters

    Fighters of al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey, Jan. 2, 2014.
    Fighters of al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant carry their weapons during a parade at the Syrian town of Tel Abyad, near the border with Turkey, Jan. 2, 2014.
    Reuters
    An alliance of Islamist and other rebel factions battled fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) across north-western Syria on Saturday in apparently coordinated strikes against the powerful al-Qaida-linked group.
     
    Activists said dozens of fighters had been killed in the clashes, which started on Friday and may have been provoked by increasing resentment against the radical ISIL fighters, many of them foreign jihadis.
     
    One group of fighters battling the ISIL was the newly formed Mujahideen Army, an alliance of eight brigades who accused the al-Qaida affiliate of hijacking their struggle to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
     
    It said ISIL fighters were “undermining stability and security in liberated areas” through theft, kidnapping and trying to impose their own brand of Islam, and vowed to fight them until ISIL was disbanded or driven out of Syria.
     
    The infighting amongst Assad's opponents has strengthened his hand ahead of planned peace talks in Geneva on Jan. 22. Assad, backed by Shi'ite fighters from Iraq and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, has pushed back rebels around Damascus and in central Syria, and faces little pressure to make concessions.
     
    Fighters from the Islamic Front, made up of several Islamist brigades which have been close with ISIL in the past, were engaged in heavy clashes with the group in northern Aleppo province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
     
    The Observatory, a monitoring group based in Britain, said at least 60 people had been killed in fighting which it described as a major challenge to ISIL's control in Aleppo and neighboring Idlib province.
     
    The ISIL and another al-Qaida affiliate, the Nusra Front, together with Islamist fighters from the Islamic Front, have eclipsed the Free Syrian Army which Western powers had hoped to build into a moderate force capable of toppling Assad.
     
    That impotence was highlighted in November when the FSA's military command lost control of a military base and main weapons depot close to the Turkish border.
     
    Battling Qaida 'oppression'
     
    Assad's main political opponents in exile, the National Coalition, sought to portray Saturday's clashes as a counter assault by the FSA against ISIL's “authoritarian oppression”
     
    “The Syrian people clearly have rejected al-Qaida's attempts to establish a presence in the liberated territories,” coalition member Monzer Akbik said. “The solution to fighting extremism in Syria is to strengthen the Free Syrian Army at this critical juncture”.
     
    The coalition said the fighting erupted after ISIL gunmen fired into a crowd of civilians in the Aleppo village of Kafr Takharim who were commemorating the death in ISIL custody of a prominent Syrian doctor and rebel commander, Hussein Suleiman.
     
    Suleiman's body was handed over by ISIL on Tuesday as part of a prisoner swap between rival rebel forces. Video footage of his corpse showed signs of beating and one ear was cut off.
     
    Several demonstrations were held across Aleppo to mark Suleiman's death on Friday. Some brought together several hundred protesters, a dim echo of the many thousands who took to the streets for anti-Assad protests in the early months of the uprising, before it turned into armed insurgency and civil war.
     
    More than 100,000 people have been killed in nearly three years of conflict. More than two million refugees have fled abroad and another 6.5 million are internally displaced within the country of 23 million, the United Nations says.
     
    The war pits Sunni rebels against forces loyal to Assad, from the Alawite faith which is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, and has divided the Middle East along sectarian lines, with Sunni states such as Turkey and the Gulf monarchies backing the rebels, and Shi'ite Iran and Hezbollah supporting Assad.
     
    Western reluctance to intervene militarily in the conflict - in contrast to the rapid NATO involvement in Libya in 2011 - has been heightened by concerns about the growth of al-Qaida-linked Sunni Muslim groups in rebel areas of north and eastern Syria.
     
    Their spread inside Syria has been matched across the border in western Iraq, where ISIL has tightened its grip in the Sunni Muslim province of Anbar.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
    January 05, 2014 9:40 PM
    The reason of non-interference in Syria by the Obama administration was that the US cannot identify who is al-Qaida and terrorists and who are the other freedom fighters. Now the al-Qaeda and the State in Islam and Lavent (ISIL) are fighting against Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Mujahideen Army. It is the division of the opposition to Bashar al Assad that the US was waiting for. But President Obama is still blind folded to the realities on the ground in Syria and could not distinquish the al Qaida and terrorists from the other freedom fighters in Syria to provide the military supplies to the freedom fighters. But Saudi Arabia and Qatar can distinguish whom to support against Bashar al Assad. President Obama should check with the Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply arms to the rightful freedom fighters against Bashar al Assad. If non-interference in the internal affairs of a state, is the foreign policy of the US, the US should have refrained from military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The pick and choose foreign policy of intervention of the US in the internal affairs of troubled countries makes the foreign policy of the US non existent.

    by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
    January 04, 2014 8:38 PM
    US does not want to enter in the Syrian conflict and resorted to the technicality of the UN Security Council approval, even though it was a foregone conclusion that Russia and China will not approve the the UN resolutions. The EU and NATO froze into inaction without the US leadership, resulting in the death of more than 100,000 Syrian citizens, more than 2 million refugees and more than one fourth of the people in the country becoming internally displaced persons (IDPs). The military intervention by the US, EU and NATO might have been cheaper than taking care of all the refugees and IDPs indefinitely for years to come.
    In Response

    by: Plain Mirror Intl from: Plain Planet - Africa
    January 05, 2014 4:14 AM
    Davis K. Thanjan, No military intervention would have been cheaper! No military intervention was ever cheaper in Iraq, Afghanistan nor Libya! The US, EU and NATO seek after their selfish interests neglecting the fact that the people revolting and rebeling in these Arab nations have a different agenda. They do not believe in so called Democracy. Democracy is considered a blasphemous system of government by these rebels. If military intervention is cheaper, why the US larmenting over the invasion made in Iraq... ? Seing the mess in Iraq, the US shamefully withdrew, Oooh! how the mighty US has fallen in Iraq and its weapons of warfare perished! Tell the US and its EU and NATO allies to learn their lessons and stop putting problems all over the world. What is Democracy and for whom is Democracy meant for?

    by: ahmad hussein annan from: Syria
    January 04, 2014 8:38 PM
    In fact the Syrian rebels have been for months trying to reach an agreement with the so called ISiL but in vein. the attempt to work together and share same goals has totally failed.The USA , EU and the UN seem to have been pushing forward toward a global anti Terror war on Syrian Ground . The Price is however Syrian Blood . Two main streams are fighting : Islamist with ambiguous agenda and a so called free Army loyal to foreign powers singing a very strange song different from that the revolution originally aimed الثورة السروية تحولت عن مسارها وصار من مهامها خوض حرب دولية على الإرهاب على حساب الشعب السوري والثمن كالعادة دم الأطفال والشبان أمل الأمة في غد مشرق عقدت إسرائل العزم على قتله

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.