500 reported killed in rebel infighting in Syria

500 reported killed in rebel infighting in Syria

With nearly 500 people reported killed in a week of rebel infighting, many Syrians barricaded themselves in their homes Friday, while others emerged from mosques angrily accusing an al-Qaida-linked group of hijacking their revolution, the Associated Press reported.

The rebel-on-rebel clashes have overshadowed the battle against President Bashar Assad and underscore the perils for civilians caught in the crossfire of two parallel wars.

The violence, which pits fighters from a variety of Islamic groups and mainstream factions against the feared al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have spread across four provinces in opposition-held parts of northern Syria.

The infighting is helping Assad, whose forces have clawed back some of the ground lost to the rebels in recent months as they bombard the north and other opposition regions with warplanes, heavy artillery and crude explosive-filled barrels dropped over rebel neighborhoods.

"The revolution has been derailed," said Abdullah Hasan, a self-described secular activist in the northern town of Maskaneh, where fighters from the al-Qaida-linked group swept in last month. "None of the groups fighting in Syria represent me now," he said, adding that he was nonetheless hopeful that the infighting would help purge extremists from the ranks of the rebels.

The latest bout of violence broke out a week ago across northern Syria and is the most serious among opponents of Assad since the civil war began.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Friday that at least 482 people have been killed in the infighting since Jan. 3. It said 157 were from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, 240 from more moderate factions and 85 were civilians.

The death toll mirrors and even exceeds casualties from the broader war between government forces and the rebels in the same time frame. The Observatory, which documents casualties on a daily basis through a network of activists on the ground, has recorded 385 people killed between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9 in fighting between rebels and government forces. But casualties among soldiers are difficult to track down and are often under reported.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and another al-Qaida-linked group known as Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, initially joined forces with moderate rebels fighting to oust Assad in a conflict that began in March 2011 as a popular uprising but morphed into a civil war.

The extremists proved well-organized and efficient fighters, giving the ragtag rebels a boost. But the Iraqi-based Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which includes many foreign fighters, has alienated many Syrians over the past several months by using brutal tactics to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law.

The group has also kidnapped scores of foreign journalists and activists, and killed and beheaded opponents in areas it controls. Earlier this week, dozens of dead bodies were found at a hospital allegedly used as the group's local headquarters in Aleppo, many of them blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs.

Opposition groups said the dead were captives killed by the al-Qaida militants before they retreated from the hospital.

The Nusra Front has largely stayed on the sidelines of the ongoing clashes, and in some places has tried to broker a truce.

The collection of ultraconservative rebels and more moderate brigades have made headway against extremist fighters in several areas in the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Raqqa - although the al-Qaida-linked group has managed to regroup and curb some of its losses.

Bari Abdellatif, a resident of the town of al-Bab in the Aleppo countryside, said al-Qaida fighters seized control Friday of wheat silos and mills just outside the town, and were trying to storm it from several fronts.

He accused the extremists of confiscating flour and bread and distributing it to areas under their control, leading to severe shortages in al-Bab.

A group of people in the town emerged from mosques following prayers Friday, marching in protest.

"Those who stole the revolution are traitors!" some shouted, while others chanted slogans in support of the Free Syrian Army, the Western-backed umbrella group that includes more moderate factions. "Free Syrian Army forever!" they cried.

The proliferation of radical groups among rebel ranks has dampened U.S. support for the Syrian opposition. With only two weeks to go ahead of an international peace conference on Syria to be held in Switzerland, many Syrians are now convinced the U.S. is even considering a future in which Assad stays in power.

In Kfarnubul, a town in northern Idlib province, protesters held a placard that showed President Barack Obama polishing a bloodied shoe with a picture of Assad and a Syrian flag on it.

Another showed the U.S. president watering a plant called ISIL, the English acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The drawing reflected views that the U.S. retreat from its support for moderate rebels in Syria was strengthening the extremists.

Hasan, the activist in Maskaneh, said people there did not dare leave their homes, fearing intimidation and arrest by the al-Qaida militants patrolling the streets.

Attendance at Friday prayers was markedly lower than usual as well, because people were afraid that extremists would send car bombs, a tactic they have recently started using against other rebels, Abdellatif said.

The principles of the revolutions have all gone, Hasan said.

"It was about freedom and dignity. Now it's a sectarian war and just people killing each other," he said.

Israel has vaccinated over 2 mln people against COVID-19
Israel has vaccinated over 2 mln people against COVID-19
Wizz Air to launch Tel Aviv - Abu Dhabi flights
Wizz Air to launch Tel Aviv - Abu Dhabi flights
Fitch keeps A+ for Israel with stable outlook despite COVID-19 crisis
Fitch keeps A+ for Israel with stable outlook despite COVID-19 crisis
Loading Bars
Latest
2 IS militants killed, 6 arrested in Iraq
Iran's Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 18
President Ilham Aliyev calls President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
WHO reports over 688,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
Tunisian PM appoints new ministers in sweeping cabinet reshuffle
Azerbaijani gymnasts awarded the title of "Honorary Master of Sports"
Thousands march in Vienna against coronavirus restrictions
Uzbekistan's Bukhara oil refinery starts production of RON-95 gasoline under QuWatt brand
Iran's SPGC reveals processing data of its first refinery
Kazakhstan, Greece boost trade turnover year-on-year
Building materials price hikes may increase cost of projects in Georgia
Serbia receives 1 mln Sinopharm vaccines from China
Iran's Rasht-Caspian railway to stimulate development of production
Over 110,000 health workers receive COVID-19 vaccine shots in Istanbul
7 killed in helicopter crash in southern Philippines
New footage from Azerbaijani Aghdam district's Shelli village issued (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan confirms 650 more COVID-19 recoveries
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange soar
Georgian plans to vaccinate 60% of its population
Turkmenistan's MFA holds briefing dedicated to commissioning of infrastructure facilities (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan reports big increase in revenues from transporting cargo by air
Preliminary cost of building pharmaceutical cluster in Tashkent revealed
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 16
Member of Turkey's coronavirus board assures efficacy of CoronaVac
Azerbaijan shares footage from Mirzajamally village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Summary of Operational Headquarters' amendments to quarantine regime in Azerbaijan
Azercell’s Mobile Eye and Mobile Dental Clinics provided free medical service to the hundreds of residents in 2020! (PHOTO)
Nepal approves emergency use of Covishield vaccine manufactured in India
COVID-19 infection rate falling in Azerbaijan - TABIB
Georgia reveals number of COVID-19 cases for Jan.16
Iran's trade turnover with Turkmenistan decreases
Japan interested in creation JVs in Uzbekistan in production and services spheres
Details of agricultural products exported to Iraq via Iran's Mehran customs announced
Turkmenistan's Main State Service opens tender for equipment purchase
Participation in funeral to be permitted via Azerbaijani Interior Ministry's Call Center
Toughened quarantine in Azerbaijan turned out to be effective - President's assistant
Vaccination of people aged over 65 to begin on Feb. 1 - Azerbaijani president's assistant
Storage facilities for COVID-19 vaccines being created in Azerbaijan's Shusha
Nepal requests India for early provision of COVID-19 vaccines
S Jaishankar attends sixth meeting of India-Nepal Joint Commission
At 18 million, India has largest diaspora in the world: UN
Azerbaijan to purchase vaccines via Fund for Combating COVID-19
Baku subway, public transport not to work on weekends until quarantine ends
Azerbaijan reveals volume of imported Chinese Sinovac vaccine
Azerbaijan shares footage from liberated Hajikand village of Kalbajar (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Operational Headquarters of Azerbaijan talks international, domestic flights
Prime Minister Modi Launches pan India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive
GM to invest C$1 billion in Canada plant to manufacture electric vans
Azerbaijan to start vaccination from COVID-19 - Operational Headquarters
Barbershops and beauty salons in Azerbaijan to start working soon
Kazakhstan sees decrease in exports to EAEU countries
Review of transactions in national currency at Turkmen exchange for Dec. 2020
Total amount of transactions on Turkmen Commodity Exchange for Dec. 2020
Iran's companies can offer technical services in Azerbaijan's Karabakh
Azerbaijan to resume activity of shopping centers, museums, barbershops
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for January 16
Ban on entry-exit to some cities, regions of Azerbaijan remains in force
Azerbaijan makes wearing face masks mandatory both indoor, outdoor
Public catering facilities in Azerbaijan to resume activity soon
Aftershock rocks Indonesia quake zone as search continues
Kazakhstan's coal extracting venture to transformer substations via tender
Azerbaijan softens toughened quarantine regime
Turkmenistan, IBRD sign protocol of negotiations on COVID-19 response draft
Azerbaijan cancels SMS-permissions for leaving homes due to COVID-19
Iranian currency rates for January 16
Iran expects balance in foreign currency rates
Azerbaijan's import of grain from Russia's Stavropol for 2020 revealed
Mass inoculation of Russians against coronavirus to begin on January 18
Indonesia quake kills at least 42, injures hundreds
U.S. Health Secretary Azar condemns Capitol violence in resignation letter
UzAuto Motors doubles cars production volume in 2020
France's coronavirus death toll approaches 70,000
Over 600,000 have received Sinovac shots in Turkey's vaccination program
5.4-magnitude quake jolts southern Iran
Hotel occupancy increases in all Georgian regions
Trump directs government to minimize procurement from China
WhatsApp to delay launch of update business features after privacy backlash
Brazil reports more than 1,000 COVID deaths for fourth consecutive day
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 709,000 in past day
UN chief calls for "far greater solidarity" in message on 2 millionth COVID-19 death
Money transfers to Georgia up in December 2020
WHO advises against proof of COVID-19 vaccination for int'l travel
BMW to recall 21,693 cars in Russia
We are having tea in pear-shaped glasses, baklava on Jidir Duzu. Let our friends rejoice, enemies get blind! - President Aliyev (PHOTO/VIDEO)
It is such unique feeling to see Shusha, to return to Shusha - President Aliyev
Commander-in-Chief came to Shusha for first time in 30 years and, frankly, does not want to leave - President Aliyev
Those who grew up over 17 years have liberated these lands - President Aliyev
Prepare report here, not in your cabinets - President Aliyev to international organizations
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 2 mln
People of Azerbaijan will live in Shusha forever - President of Azerbaijan
All martyr families will be provided with apartments and houses by state - President Aliyev
In May 1992, Shusha was occupied as result of betrayal of PFPA-Musavat duo - President Aliyev
Today, I brought busts of our geniuses Khurshidbanu Natavan, Uzeyir Hajibayli and Bulbul to Shusha - President Aliyev
It is impossible to imagine Shusha without Jidir Duzu, and Azerbaijan without Shusha - President Aliyev
Mausoleum of Molla Panah Vagif was inaugurated exactly 39 years ago, I was standing right here - President Aliyev
After desecrating busts of our genius personalities, Armenians took them to Armenia to be melted down and sold - President Aliyev
Armenia must answer in international courts - Azerbaijani MFA
I said no, we will take these busts back only after liberating Shusha from enemy, put them in their original places - President Aliyev
All news