Posts Tagged ‘ Red Lion Revolution ’

Syrian rebels capture post near Jordan border

September 28, 2013

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels including members of an al-Qaida-linked group captured Saturday a military post on the border with Jordan after four days of fighting, an activist group said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 26 soldiers were killed in the battle as well as a number of rebels, including seven foreign fighters. The post served in the past as the customs office on the border with Jordan. It was turned into an army post years ago.

The post is on the outskirts of the southern city of Daraa where the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March 2011. The uprising later turned into a civil war that killed more than 100,000 people, according to the U.N.

Rebels control multiple areas along the borders with Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon as well as the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Also Saturday some U.N. inspectors left their hotel in Damascus in one vehicle to an unknown location, according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene.

The U.N. said Friday its team of weapons experts currently in Syria will investigate seven sites of alleged chemical attacks in the country, four more than previously known. The announcement came hours before the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to secure and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.

The team initially visited Syria last month to investigate three alleged chemical attacks this year. But just days into the visit, the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta was hit by a chemical strike, and the inspectors turned their attention to that case. The inquiry determined that the nerve agent sarin was used in the Aug. 21 attack, but it did not assess who was behind it.

The U.S. says more than 1,400 people were killed in the attack while activists gave a smaller number but still in the hundreds. The UN team of investigators expects to finalize its activities in the country by Monday, a U.N. statement said.

On Thursday, the world’s chemical weapons watchdog adopted a U.S.-Russian plan that lays out benchmarks and timelines for cataloging, quarantining and ultimately destroying Syria’s chemical weapons, their precursors and delivery systems.

The Security Council resolution enshrines the plan approved by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, making it legally binding. The agreement allows the start of a mission to rid Syria’s regime of its estimated 1,000-ton chemical arsenal by mid-2014, significantly accelerating a destruction timetable that often takes years to complete.

A draft of the OPCW decision obtained by The Associated Press calls for the first inspectors to be in Syria by Tuesday.

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Commander of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria has been killed

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Abu-Abdallah al-Libi, a top commander of al-Qaeda front group The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has been killed on Sunday in Idlib in northwestern Syria, Al Arabiya television reported.

The Free Syrian Army denied responsibility for Libi’s death.

The militant group is posing growing challenges for the armed opposition fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power and aspire to build a democratic civilian system in the country.

This week the extremist group took control of the Syrian town of Aziz, on the border with Turkey.

Syrian Youth activists had launched an online campaign entitled “ISIS doesn’t represent me.”

“I hope Azaz turns into ISIS’ burial ground,” said one activist posting on Twitter, according to AFP.

“They failed against the Americans in Afghanistan, and against the Iranians in Iraq. Now they are here to bully the Syrians, who are fighting a criminal regime,” said another.

Imposition

An online activist said he feared ISIS would try to impose Islamic law in Azaz.

“Sharia law would only be imposed to allow the killing of people, and we don’t want that,” he said.

Another activist echoed a common claim that ISIS is working hand in glove with Assad’s regime, and was mirroring its methods by “attacking field hospitals, detaining doctors and killing activists.”

Activists said the battle for Azaz began when jihadists broke into a field hospital, searching for a German doctor.

Another version of Wednesday’s events says the fighting broke out when a Northern Storm rebel stepped in to defend a German journalist from being kidnapped by ISIS.

The FSA regained control of the town after heavy clashes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Azaz was calm by Thursday, Al Arabiya television reported.

Source: al-Arabiya.

Link: http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2013/09/22/-Leader-of-al-Qaeda-in-Iraq-and-Syria-has-been-killed.html.

Hundreds of Syria rebels pledge loyalty to Qaeda groups

Reuters

Saturday, Sep 21, 2013

BEIRUT – Hundreds of rebels have pledged allegiance to al Qaeda-affiliated forces in northern and eastern Syria, activists and Islamist sources said on Friday, strengthening the group’s control in the region.

Not only individual fighters, but entire units have joined the small but powerful al Qaeda-linked groups – the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – in recent days, according to the sources inside Syria.

“This is a sign the radical groups are still growing in power. This region could fall to the jihadists,” said an activist in the eastern town of Raqqa, who asked not to be identified. “We may see this become a trend.”

Clashes have been intensifying between Nusra or ISIL and the less effective but more moderate forces that make up the majority of opposition fighters, especially in opposition-held territory along Syria’s northern and eastern borders.

At least two entire rebel brigades are said to have joined the Nusra Front in the opposition-held province of Raqqa, which borders Turkey. One of the groups, the Raqqa Revolutionaries, has about 750 fighters in total, according to a source close to Islamist forces who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another group, the God’s Victory Brigade, said in a statement on Facebook that all of its leaders and fighters had pledged loyalty to Nusra Front.

“God’s Victory Brigade, which is comprise of 15 battalions, had pledged its allegiance to the Nusra Front, giving complete submission (to it) in times of hardship and of ease,” it said.

A video uploaded by activists from Raqqa on Friday showed a massive convoy of fighters on cars and trucks with artillery and machine guns as they waved black flags. The video’s title said it showed a newly unified force of Nusra fighters and other rebel battalions who had recently pledged loyalty.

Western forces have been wary of giving further support or weapons to opposition forces who are not only plagued by internal divisions, but the rising influence of al Qaeda groups.

Sporadic clashes between harder-line Islamists and more moderate rebels are increasingly frequent and activists fear that is weakening the two-and-a-half-year revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. The uprising began as peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule but has degenerated into a war that has killed more than 100,000.

While some tensions stem from contrasting ideological outlooks, most rebel-on-rebel fighting is more about control of territory and the spoils of war.

Some activists said the new Islamist loyalty pledges were timed to combat increasing hostility from rival rebel groups, including the Supreme Military Council, the armed wing of the opposition’s Western-backed umbrella leadership abroad.

Many Syrian rebels are attracted to radical units because they are generally more effective than the moderate forces that have Western backing but receive only halting military aid.

Islamists have steady, private sources of funding and incorporate experienced militants, many of them from abroad, who have fought US forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Source: AsiaOne.

Link: http://news.asiaone.com/news/world/hundreds-syria-rebels-pledge-loyalty-qaeda-groups.

Syrian troops storm central village, killing 15

September 21, 2013

BEIRUT (AP) — Government troops backed by allied militiamen have stormed a predominantly Sunni village in central Syria killing at least 15 people, while opposition forces began an offensive near Aleppo to try to cut the army’s supply route to the northern city, activists said Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack on the village of Sheik Hadid occurred late Friday and that the dead included two women and a child. It said the rest were men but did not know if they included rebel fighters.

The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said 26 people were killed in Sheik Hadid, including some who were killed with knives. Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said at least two of the dead were stabbed to death.

The discrepancy in numbers could not be immediately reconciled. The assault came shortly after rebels captured Jalma, another village close to Sheik Hadid in Hama province, killing five soldiers. The Observatory said fighting raged Saturday in Sheik Hadid and nearby areas.

The civil war, which has left more than 100,000 dead, has taken increasingly sectarian overtones. Most of the rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad belong to the majority Sunni sect while his regime is dominated by members of his minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Observatory also reported clashes between fighters of two hard-line rebel organizations, al-Qaida’s Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the Nusra Front, against Kurdish gunmen in the northern province of Raqqa. The group says 17 hard-liners and three Kurdish gunmen have been killed in the fighting since Friday.

Clashes between Islamic militants and Kurdish gunmen over the past months in northern Syria have left hundreds dead. Also in northern Syria, the Observatory said the rebels launched a wide offensive south of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, in an attempt to cut supplies to government forces in the contested metropolis.

The Observatory said rebels captured six villages south of Aleppo amid heavy fighting. It had on word on casualties. Rebels control large parts of northern Syria and some neighborhoods of Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial capital.

Meanwhile, Syria’s main opposition group rejected an offer by Iran’s new president, Hasan Rouhani, to help in holding a national dialogue to end the Arab country’s crisis. The Syrian National Coalition’s statement came two days after Rouhani wrote in the Washington Post that Tehran was ready to facilitate talks between Assad’s government and the opposition.

Iran has been one of Assad’s strongest backers and is believed to have sent the Syrian government weapons and billions of dollars since the crisis began in March 2011. Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group has fought alongside Assad’s forces.

“The Iranian statement is ridiculous after all the blood that Iran participated in shedding … through its political, economic and military support to Assad,” said the SNC statement. “It is better if the Iranian leadership withdraws its military experts and fanatic fighters from Syria before coming with initiatives for the concerned parties. It (Iran) is part of the problem,” the statement said.

Al-Qaida group seizes town on Turkey’s border

By AFP

09/18/2013

An Al-Qaeda front group fighting in Syria on Wednesday overran the northern town of Azaz near the border with Turkey after fierce clashes with rebels, activists told AFP.

“The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has seized complete control of Azaz. They are in control of the town’s entrances,” said Abu Ahmad, an activist inside the town.

Another activist, a resident of the border town, confirmed the report.

“ISIS are in full control. They are detaining people from their homes, and they are manning all the checkpoints,” he told AFP via the Internet, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The development comes amid increasing reports of fighting in northern Syria between ISIS and non-jihadist rebels vying to bring down President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

In a sign that Syria’s conflict has grown highly localized in recent months, ISIS has fought side by side with rebels against government troops in other areas of the country.

In Azaz, reports emerged of continuing clashes.

Abu Ahmad said that after seizing the town, ISIS fighters were “on their way to the (nearby) Bab al-Salameh” border crossing with Turkey.

Bab al-Salameh has for months been under control of local rebels, chiefly the Northern Storm brigade.

News of the seizure of Azaz came after a battle lasting several hours between Northern Storm fighters and ISIS.

Among those reported killed in the clashes was Omar Diab, a media activist from Azaz.

Source: The Denver Post.

Link: http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_24123405/al-qaida-group-seizes-town-turkeys-border.

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