Syrian rebels launch new ‘revolution’ against radicals

Syrian rebels launch new ‘revolution’ against radicals
Updated 09 January 2014

Syrian rebels launch new ‘revolution’ against radicals

Syrian rebels launch new ‘revolution’ against radicals

BEIRUT: Syrian rebels and activists have launched a second “revolution” nearly three years into the uprising against President Bashar Assad, this time against a powerful Al-Qaeda affiliate accused of brutal abuses.
Battles have raged for two days across northern Syria since the newly formed Army of Mujahideen declared war on the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with two massive rebel alliances joining the battle against the extremist group.
“The revolution has returned to its true path, and the rays of the sun have started to shine on Syria,” Ibrahim Al-Idelbi, an activist from the war-torn country’s northwest with close ties to the rebels, wrote on his Facebook page.
“January 3, 2014: The revolution against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant begins,” wrote coastal Latakia’s Ammar, also on Facebook.
Activists and rebels have long accused ISIL of imposing a reign of terror on areas under its control, including public executions and the kidnapping, torture and assassination of rival rebels and civilians.
Some have gone so far as to accuse the group of colluding with the Assad regime to tarnish the image of the initially peaceful uprising and deter Western nations from intervening more forcefully on the rebels’ behalf.
The latest fighting appeared to have been ignited by the torture and murder this week of Dr. Hussein Al-Sleiman, known as Abu Rayyan.
An activist in Idlib who goes by the name Abu Leyla said ISIL “only benefits the Assad regime,” which has long insisted that all its opponents — peaceful activists and rebels alike — are “terrorists.”
“They have taken over roads from local fighters and then withdrawn, opening the way to the army. They take over border crossings to control arms shipments for the rebels. People have had enough,” Abu Leyla said.
Aron Lund, an expert on Syria’s insurgency, said ISIL’s vision of itself, not as a mere rebel group but as a nascent Islamic state governed by Shariah, has alienated other rebel groups, including less radicals.