Death toll in Syria rebel infighting rises to 68

Updated 15 May 2014
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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.


Turkey sends reinforcements to Syria’s Idlib

Updated 10 min 49 sec ago
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Turkey sends reinforcements to Syria’s Idlib

  • Around 35 military vehicles traveled south down the main highway near the town of Saraqib after midnight
  • The convoy was accompanied by pro-Ankara rebels of the National Liberation Front
SARAQIB, Syria: Turkish troop reinforcements entered Syria’s rebel bastion of Idlib on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent reported, a week after a deal between Ankara and Moscow averted a government offensive.
Around 35 military vehicles traveled south down the main highway near the town of Saraqib after midnight.
The convoy was accompanied by pro-Ankara rebels of the National Liberation Front (NLF), who control part of the enclave on the Turkish border.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the forces deployed to several Turkish positions around the northwestern province.
Since last year, Turkish troops have manned 12 monitoring positions in the rebel zone under a de-escalation agreement between Turkey, Russia and fellow regime ally Iran.
Last week, Ankara and Moscow announced a new agreement for a demilitarized zone along the horse-shoe shaped front line between the rebels and government troops.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, a jihadist alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls more than half of the rebel zone, while NLF fighters hold sway over most of the rest.
The agreement gives Turkey the responsibility to ensure that all fighters in the planned demilitarized zone hand over their heavy weapons by October 10 and that the more radical among them withdraw by October 15.
The agreement also provides for Turkish and Russian troops patrol the buffer zone.
Last week, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would have to send reinforcements to provide the numbers needed to conduct the patrols.
The Syrian civil war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it erupted with the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.