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Death toll in Syria rebel infighting rises to 68

BEIRUT: The death toll from infighting between rival rebel groups in an eastern Syrian town has risen 68 killed, with some shot after being captured alive, activists said Friday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said battles raged Friday for a second day in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province near the Iraqi border. It said the fighting concentrated in the village of Haseen after members of the Al-Qaeda breakaway group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were forced out of the nearby town of Bukamal.
Rebels from the ISI and fighters of the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and other rebel groups have been fighting each other in the province for weeks over territory previously captured from President Bashar Assad’s forces, including oil fields.
The Observatory said 68 fighters died in fighting around Bukamal on Thursday. The ISI briefly captured the town, previously controlled by the Nusra Front, for several hours.
An activist from the Deir el-Zour who is currently in Turkey said that Nusra Front fighters and their allies brought reinforcements into Bukamal and forced out ISI gunmen after midnight Friday following hours of intense fighting that killed more than 50 people.
The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals against his relatives in the province, said the ISI took its rivals by surprise when its members stormed Bukamal at dawn Thursday and marched through the city.
The Observatory said of the 68 killed in the fighting, some were “executed” by members of the ISI.
An amateur video released by the Observatory showed several men, including some who were handcuffed, shot in the head in a square in Bukamal. The narrator said the men were killed by ISI members.

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