ISIL seizes Syrian border town near Iraq

Photo: ISIL seizes Syrian border town near Iraq / Iraq

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now calling itself Islamic State, captured on Tuesday an eastern Syrian town, bordering Iraq, after days of intense clashes with rival jihadist groups in that oil-rich region, Xinhua reported.

The ISIL, an al-Qaida splinter group, on Tuesday captured the Bukamal town in Syria's eastern province of Deir al-Zour on the borders with Iraq after "intense" battles with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London- based watchdog group, reported.

Moreover, the ISIL has started advancing towards the town of al- Shahel, the stronghold of the Nusra Front, in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour, said the Observatory.

The ISIL and the Nusra Front have been deadlocked in infighting since earlier this year. The rebel-on-rebel battles have claimed the lives of more than 7,000 rebels and civilians since the beginning of 2014 in rebel-held areas in northern and eastern Syria, according to the Observatory.

The ISIL and the Nusra Front have been extensively fighting recently over the Bukamal, due to its strategic location on the borders with Iraq and its oil fields. The town has fallen to the ISIL after jihadist groups, originally fought for the Nusra Front, switched sides and pledged alliance to the ISIL.

The new victory of the ISIL come just a couple of days after the organization declared the establishment of an Islamic State in areas under their control in Syria and Iraq.

As the ISIL is now growing more resourceful, observers believe that the infighting between this al-Qaida splinter group and other jihadist groups would escalate.

The al-Qaida breakaway group controls areas that stretch from Nineveh and part of al-Anbar region in western Iraq to the northern countryside of Syria's northwestern province of Aleppo, bordering Turkey.

The group's control also stretch from northern countryside of Deir al-Zour to the south of al-Hasaka province, in addition to large swathes of the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour and the entire western countryside of that oil-rich province toward the al- Raqqa province, the main base of the group in Syria.

The group, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who commands tens of thousands of fighters, said its goal is to establish an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria and to fight the Shiite government of Nouri al-Maliki and the administration of President Bashar al- Assad, whose top ranks are from the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

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