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.


Canada to resettle group of Syrian White Helmets

Updated 5 min 22 sec ago
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Canada to resettle group of Syrian White Helmets

  • Canada has supported the work of the White Helmets by helping them to expand, train more volunteers, train more women and save more lives
  • Jordan said a group of 279 Syrian rescue workers has left the kingdom for resettlement in Western countries

OTTAWA: Canada is preparing to welcome a group of Syrian White Helmets rescuers, officials said on Friday, without specifying when they will be resettled.
“Together with a core group of international allies, Canada is working to resettle a group of White Helmets and their families after they had to flee Syria as a result of being specifically targeted by the Syrian regime and its backer, Russia,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said in a joint statement.
“As first responders, the White Helmets have witnessed first-hand some of the most appalling crimes committed by the murderous Assad regime. Canada has supported the work of the White Helmets by helping them to expand, train more volunteers, train more women and save more lives,” they said, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In July, following the evacuation of 400 White Helmets from Syria to Israel and then to Jordan, Canada announced that it was ready to accommodate 50 of them and their families, for a potential total of 250 people.
Jordan said Wednesday a group of 279 Syrian rescue workers has left the kingdom for resettlement in Western countries.
Founded in 2013, the Syrian Civil Defense, or White Helmets, is a network of first responders who rescue wounded in the aftermath of air strikes, shelling or blasts in rebel-held territory.