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Syria: Infighting erupts between rebel factions in Aleppo

Rival groups clash in divided city, abduct each other's fighters; 'Situation is very tense,' says activist; unknowns kidnap deputy FM's father

Syrian activists on Saturday reported a wave of mutual kidnappings between rival Islamic rebel groups in the northern city of Aleppo after clashes killed at least four rebel fighters.

 

Lack of unity characterized the armed conflict from its 2011 start, and plays into the hands of the regime, which is trying to tarnish the image of the opposition by saying it is dominated by extremists linked to al-Qaeda network.

 

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In an interview for the Argentinean newspaper Clarin on Saturday, Syrian President Bashar Assad played up the rebels' lack of unity to claim that an international committee cannot solve the situation.

 

The opposition is a myriad of hundreds of different groups, each with its own leader, he said.

 

Tensions in Aleppo demonstrated it well.

 

The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said a coalition of rebel groups known as the Judicial Council had accused another armed opposition faction, the Ghurabaa al-Sham, of plundering factories in Aleppo's industrial neighborhood.

 

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a former commercial center, is split between rebel and government control.

 

Aleppo, a city of 3 million that was once a bastion of support for President Assad, has been engulfed in heavy fighting since rebels launched an assault there in July and captured several neighborhoods.


מורד בחלב. "יש מאות קבוצות אופוזיציה שונות", טוען אסד (צילום: AP )

Rebel in Aleppo (Photo: AP)

 

Abdul-Rahman said tensions among rebel factions have been rising in opposition-held areas, mostly on the eastern side of the city.

 

The two groups, the Judicial Council and the Ghurabaa al-Sham, clashed on Tuesday near Aleppo in fighting that left four members of the Judicial Council dead, Abldul-Rahman said.

 

He added that the Judicial Council is now holding dozens of members of Ghurabaa al-Sham captive.

 

Aleppo-based activist Mohammed Saeed said Ghurabaa al-Sham withdrew its fighters from several neighborhoods, including the industrial area.

 

Saeed said Ghurabaa al-Sham released all Judicial Council members it was holding while the other group refused to set free Ghuarbaa al-Sham members and is still holding them.

 

"The situation is very tense in Aleppo," said Abdul-Rahman, who relies on a network of activists around the country.

 

He said that Ghurabaa al-Sham has warned it will bring some of its members from outside the city to fight against the Judicial Council if its members are not freed.

 

The Judicial Council is an umbrella organization that includes the Tawheed Brigade, Ahrar al-Sham and the al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra - one of the most effective forces among the mosaic of rebel brigades fighting to topple Assad in Syria's civil war.

 

Also on Saturday, it was reported that gunmen abducted the elderly father of Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in the village of Ghossom in the southern province of Daraa.

 

 

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פרסום ראשון: 05.19.13, 08:33
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