Rebels lose ground to Assad forces in Syria war; Free Syrian Army official Akaidi resigns

The Washington Post reports: Forces loyal to Syria’s government are taking advantage of deepening rifts among the country’s rebels to advance into rebel-held territory in northern Syria, overturning some long-held assumptions about the war.

The resignation Sunday of a top leader in the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army further underscored the extent to which rebel infighting is undermining the effort not only to topple President Bashar al-Assad but also to hold on to territories won by the opposition in more than two years of conflict.

Col. Abdul Jabbar Akaidi, one of the chief recipients of the limited U.S. aid provided to the opposition, said he was standing down to protest the rebel bickering, which he blamed for the capture Friday by Assad loyalists of the strategic town of Safira, southeast of the key city of Aleppo.

The fall of Safira restored a vital supply link between Damascus and government forces holding out in the divided northern city and put regime loyalists on track to challenge other opposition strongholds in Aleppo province, almost all of which has been under rebel control for more than a year. Opposition commanders said Safira fell after Islamist brigades failed to respond to a call for reinforcements by the Taw­heed Brigade, Aleppo’s biggest rebel battalion, which was forced to flee under a withering bombardment by the Syrian air force. [Continue reading…]

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