Al Qaeda-Linked Rebel Infighting Begins in Syria
Local infighting between Islamist rebel factions – and between the jihadists and the more moderate opposition forces – has begun in Syria.
The violence is taking place despite the fact that the civil war between the opposition fighters and loyalists defending President Bashar al-Assad has not yet ended.
But the war may in fact wind down with this week’s overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi giving strength to Assad’s forces.
The Muslim Brotherhood has long provided support to the Syrian radical Islamist cause -- part of the reason for the fragmentation that prevented the opposition from coalescing into a reasonably organized force backed by a unified government-in-exile, one the West was able to support.
Rebel forces in Syria, fragmented as they were before Morsi’s fall, are now fighting each other in earnest. A merger formed between the global Al Qaeda-backed Islamic State of Iraq, and al-Sham (ISIS), the Syrian unit, has been working to swallow northern Syrian real estate over the past year.
It also is becoming increasingly clear that ISIS has swallowed the local Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra Front), which once was the largest faction in the Islamist Front for the Liberation of Syria – the 13-member rebel coalition that broke away from the main opposition force.
ISIS has also been imposing its extremist Shari’a rule over villagers who welcome its rebel forces – including foreign Al Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan and Iraq – not realizing what such infiltration will bring.
On Friday, dozens were killed in internecine violence in the town of al-Dana near the Turkish border, local sources said.
According to a report by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the heads a commander and his brother from the local Islam Battalion were found next to a trash can in the main square. Their bodies were found elsewhere.
Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed since the war began in March 2011 with a defiant anti-government scrawl by a teen on a wall in Dera'a, inspired back then by the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings.