Syria: Ondus, 1,400 killed in Qaida-rebel infighting

Clashes started 3 weeks ago in North

23 January, 14:38

    (ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, JANUARY 23 - An estimated 1,400 people have died in three weeks of rebel infighting between local insurgents and Al Qaida militants in Syria with the majority of casualties reported among militants and 190 civilians dead, the Syrian National Observatory for Human Rights (ONDUS) said Thursday. A rebel offensive against Al Qaida has been ongoing for weeks in the northern and north-eastern areas of the country where insurgents and activists opposing Syrian President Bashar al Assad have denounced violence by Al Qaida militants against civilians.

    Al Qaida has reportedly banned in Raqqa music, smoking and imposed the full veil to women - a practice rejected by Syrians who have denounced a growing convergence of interests between the regime and al Qaida militants.

    The ongoing clashes between Syrian rebels and militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have enabled Assad militias in the past few days to gain ground east of Aleppo. Clashes, which started at the beginning of January, are ongoing in the northern and north-eastern regions of Idlib, Aleppo and Raqqa. ONDUS has reported 1,395 casualties so far, including 190 civilians of whom 21 were executed by al Qaida militants in Aleppo.

    The majority of casualties were reported among militants but the Observatory could not give an exact toll, citing at least 760 militant deaths from both sides. Several bodies could not be identified and the sides involved in infighting don't always release the number and identity of victims.

    In a message released on Thursday, the leader of al Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahiri said infighting was 'fratricidal', calling for unity against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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