Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups clash in Syria: NGO

Updated 23 September 2013
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Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups clash in Syria: NGO

BEIRUT: Members of two Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups have clashed in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh province, with one group seizing the local headquarters of the other, a Syrian NGO said on Sunday.
Fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an Iraqi Al-Qaeda branch that has expanded into Syria, attacked the headquarters of Al-Nusra Front in Shadadi, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“ISIS fighters on Saturday attacked the Nusra Front regional headquarters in Shadadi, taking control of the headquarters and seizing weapons and oil production equipment,” the group said.
The two sides clashed, but the Observatory said Al-Nusra had relatively few fighters at the headquarters because they are currently battling Kurdish forces elsewhere in the region.
Al-Nusra Front has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri, but its leader rejected an ISIS merger bid.
The two groups have fought alongside each other, however, and it was unclear whether the clashes were caused by a local dispute or a sign of broader tensions.
Elsewhere, ISIS fighters have clashed with members of more moderate brigades belonging to the Free Syrian Army.
ISIS and Al-Nusra share a similar ideology, and some of the latter’s fighters joined ISIS when it expanded into Syria.
Elsewhere, an ISIS fighter blew himself up in a car bomb that targeted a police post outside the capital Damascus, the Observatory said.
The attack, on the main road between Damascus and Homs, wounded several people but only the bomber was reported killed, the Observatory said.
State news agency SANA said the bomber was killed by army gunfire and that the car exploded before reaching its target.
Nearby, state media said Syrian troops had advanced in the northern Damascus district of Barzeh, where the army has been battling rebels for months.
The Observatory reported at least two regime air raids on the neighborhood, but there was no immediate information on casualties.


US-led coalition destroys Daesh site in Syrian mosque

Updated 43 sec ago
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US-led coalition destroys Daesh site in Syrian mosque

WASHINGTON: US-led coalition forces destroyed a Daesh group command center inside a mosque in the Syrian border town of Hajjin on Saturday, the US military said.
The statement comes as Kurdish-led forces mop up the final remnants of Daesh extremists in Hajjin, the largest settlement in what is the last pocket of territory controlled by the extremists.
More than 16 “heavily armed” Daesh fighters were at the “command and control node” at the mosque when it was destroyed by a “precision strike,” a statement from the Combined Joint Task Force read.
The extremists, who were all killed in the strike, were using the mosque to “command attacks against Coalition partners,” it said.
The Daesh group “continues to use protected structures to launch attacks against our Coalition partners with complete disregard for the infrastructure and innocent human lives,” the statement added.
Fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces secured Hajjin after weeks of heavy fighting on Friday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The town is located in eastern Syria about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the border with Iraq.
The area is sometimes referred to as the “Hajjin pocket,” the last rump of a once-sprawling “caliphate” the group proclaimed in 2014 over swathes of Syria and Iraq.