Al-Qaeda Militants, Syria Rebels Call Truce— in One Town

Syrian regime, opposition ceasefire may not be far off either, says Assad official
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2013 8:33 AM CDT
In this Sept. 23, 2012, file photo, a Free Syrian Army soldier stands on a damaged Syrian military tank in the Syrian town of Azaz.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
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(Newser) – The fighting between al-Qaeda militants and Syrian rebels, which "has raised fears of a war within a war," may now be over, at least in one town, the BBC reports. After seizing the town of Azaz this week, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) agreed to a ceasefire with the Free Syrian Army's area forces, and both sides have exchanged prisoners and returned property. The deal was arranged by a rebel brigade with ties to the FSA, AFP reports, though it's not clear if the truce will extend beyond Azaz to end infighting elsewhere between Assad's enemies.

Analysts say a distinct separation from the jihadists may boost the chances of the US or other Western countries arming the FSA, whose members ISIS has accused of being "heretics" cooperating with the West. But this ceasefire may not be the only one in Syria shortly. "Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Syria's deputy prime minister tells the Guardian. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while," he adds, claiming Assad's government will call for "an end to external intervention, a ceasefire, and the launching of a peaceful political process" during the proposed Geneva talks. (Read more Syrian civil war stories.)

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