Tensions increase within Syria rebel ranks

Free Syrian Army and al-Qaeda-linked fighters clash at Aleppo checkpoint, days after commander was shot by rival group.

    The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al-Qaeda-linked fighters have clashed again, just days after a leader of the FSA was shot dead at a checkpoint after a row between fighters from the two groups.

    Activists told Al Jazeera that the FSA and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Saturday fought for control of a strategic checkpoint in Aleppo city's Bustan al-Qasr district, a strategic gateway between rebel and government controlled territory.

    Some members of the groups now fear that tensions will escalate, hampering rebel efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. Analysts say divisions between Syria's rebel groups are partly to blame for giving Assad's forces the chance to regain the upper hand in the conflict.

    Leaders of the Western- and Arab-backed FSA told Al Jazeera that they did not consider the ISIL an enemy, but that they would defend themselves.

    "They are welcome if they help us fight the regime," Colonel Abdel Rahman Suweis, a member of the FSA Supreme Military Council, said.

    "But if they want to cause strife, impose a new understanding of religion and make Syria another Afghanistan, we will take the necessary measures." 

    While FSA units sometimes fight alongside groups with different ideologies, rivalries have increased and al-Qaeda-linked groups have been blamed for assassinations of commanders of moderate rebel units.

    Families trapped in Qaboun

    Meanwhile, hundreds of families were trapped in a northeastern district of Qaboun in Damascus by government troops who fought fierce battles with rebel forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based anti-government rights group, reported.

    "There is a siege because regime snipers are posted on the outskirts of Qaboun and this makes any attempt to leave difficult," the group said on Sunday.

    "Violent clashes are underway between regime forces and rebels in Qaboun," in northeast Damascus where battles have raged for months as the army tries to boot out rebel forces, the Observatory said.

    "The area has also been bombed by the army," added the watchdog, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers on the ground.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    Daughters of al-Shabab

    What draws Kenyan women to join al-Shabab and what challenges are they facing when they return to their communities?