Syrian Rebels Turn on Each Other

Infighting breaks out amongst moderates and Islamic extremists

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 13, 2013 3:33 PM CDT

(Newser) – Syrian rebel groups are no longer just battling government forces; some are now fighting a second front: other rebel groups. Infighting has broken out amongst the rebels, with the Western-aligned Free Syrian Army clashing with al-Qaeda-aligned groups the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, reports the AP. There has been infighting before, but usually between Kurdish and Arab rebels. Now battles between moderates and Islamic extremist groups are on the rise, as the factions fight over border crossings, checkpoints, and assets like wells and gas stations, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Among the infighting incidents: a Free Syrian Army commander was shot dead while arguing with Islamic State fighters over a checkpoint this week, while two FSA fighters were allegedly beheaded by Islamic State members last week, the New York Times reports. A fighter from the area says last week's fight broke out after a foreign fighter with the Islamic State raped a local boy. "We staged demonstrations to get freedom, not to have an emir ruling us," he says. But the jihadist groups have been the most effective fighters amongst the rebels, reports the AP, capturing many military bases and towns—even though residents aren't always happy about it. Graffiti in Aleppo reads, "Go back to Afghanistan, you have ruined the revolution," reports the Times.

A female Free Syrian Army fighter aiming her weapon, in Aleppo, Syria.   (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)
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