As Fighting Between ISIS & Syrian Opposition Increases, al Nusra Calls for Cease-Fire Grow

Rojava Report – 8.1.2014 – Fighting between the Islamic State or Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al-Qaeda affiliate, and local opposition groups in the north of Syria is growing – say two articles (here and here) posted on the ANF website today. According to reports, at least 247 people have been killed since clashes broke out on Friday. The fighting comes just weeks before the Geneva-II peace talks, scheduled for January 22nd.

The fighting began when a group of fighters identifying themselves only as ‘rebels’ attacked the ISID in Cebel Cewiya on Friday, killing 34 ISID fighters. Following the outbreak of clashes, the ISID is reported to have executed around 50 civilian prisoners – including four news reporters from Shaza el-Hurriye Television, as well as number aid workers, some of whom were women. The ISID had earlier threatened to kill over 100 civilian prisoners in their custody.

In Aleppo, the ISID is reported to have captured the headquarters of Syrian Opposition’s 46th Brigade. Haci Bekir, an influential ISID commander, is said to have been killed in the fighting. The newly formed Islamic Front  – which includes the Mujahid Army and the Front of Revolutionaries – have been taken the lead in the fight against the ISID. The Islamic Front have largely taken the place of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army in the aftermath of the latter’s gradual collapse over the past year.

ISIS attacks Kurdish neighborhood in Rakka

Units of the ISIL are also reported to have launched an assault on a Kurdish neighborhood in the Tegba district of Rakka. According to local sources ISIL fighters killed and kidnapped a number of number of Kurdish civilians. Following the attack fighting broke out between local Kurds and al-Qaeda fighters. The fighting is reported to be on-going.

The al-Nusra Front calls for a cease-fire

Abu Mohammad al-Jawlani, the leader of the al-Nusra Front, has called for a cease-fire between the ISID and the Syrian opposition. Al-Jawlani is reported to have the called the fighting “an emergency” on his Twitter page, and called for a “committee based on Sharia and formed from all the important brigades to provide for a cease-fire, an exchange of prisoners and to put the fight against the regime first.”

According to the Human Rights Observatory, at least 274 people have been killed over five days of fighting. Of these 129 were members of the opposition, 99 members of al-Qaeda, and 46 civilians. Al-Jawlani blamed the fighting, at least in part, on the policies of the ISID. Although both al-Nusra and the ISID swear loyalty to al-Qaeda, there leadership is frequently at odds and there have been moments of tension in the past. The ISID was formed in Iraq in 2006 in the aftermath of the US invasion. The al-Nusra front was formed in 2012 after the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. The al-Nusra leader went on to warn that “if the fighting is not solved, there is a great risk that the jihadist front formed from foreign and local fighters would lose. The regime, which is close to collapse, would be able to take a new breath and the West and the Rafidin (Shias and Alawites) would win a great victory.” Source : Rojava Report