Syrian Islamist factions and Kurds in new push against ISIS

The Associated Press reports: A rebel coalition in Syria dominated by Islamic factions announced a new push to dislodge fighters from a rival, al-Qaida-inspired group from the northern province of Aleppo, activists said Wednesday.

The announcement, reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, came as the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant overran much of neighboring Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul.

Details of the extent of the new offensive were not immediately known. But one of the groups in the coalition, the Islamic Front, claimed that its fighters recently captured four villages from the Islamic State and killed 17 of its fighters.

The infighting is part of broader rebel-on-rebel clashes that have raged across opposition-held northern Syria since early January.

The new coalition, called the “Operations Room for the People of the Levant” also includes Kurdish groups in Syria, which traditionally have focused on defending their own ethnic areas from other rebel groups, said Rami Abdurrahman of the Observatory.

The new offensive appears to have begun late Monday, said an Aleppo-based activist who uses the name Abu al-Hassan, when two chief towns controlled by the Islamic State, Manbij and al-Bab, came under attack.

The al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and the Islamic Front attacked the town of al-Bab from the northwest, while Kurdish fighters attacked from the east, he said. [Continue reading…]

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