Syrian Islamic factions in new push against rivals

Photo: Syrian Islamic factions in new push against rivals / Arab World

A rebel coalition in Syria dominated by Islamic factions announced a new push to dislodge fighters from a rival, al-Qaida-inspired group from the northern province of Aleppo, activists said Wednesday.

The announcement, reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, came as the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant overran much of neighboring Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, AP reported.

Details of the new offensive were not immediately known. But one of the groups in the coalition, the Islamic Front, claimed that its fighters recently captured four villages from the Islamic State and killed 17 of its fighters.

The infighting is part of broader rebel-on-rebel clashes that have raged across opposition-held northern Syria since early January.

The new coalition, called the "Operations Room for the people of the Levant" also includes Kurdish groups in Syria, which traditionally have focused on defending their own ethnic areas from other rebel groups, said Rami Abdurrahman of the Observatory.

The Islamic State has strongholds in the northern province of Aleppo in the towns of Manbij and al-Bab. It also controls a swath of territory from the northeastern city of Raqqa to the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

On Tuesday, the Observatory said the fighting in Deir el-Zour alone has killed 634 since April 30. It said the tally includes 39 civilians, 354 rebel fighters, including many from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, and 241 gunmen from the Islamic State.

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