Reuters reports: The Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) battled with rival opposition fighters in northern Syria on Sunday, using U.S.-made military vehicles captured from neighbouring Iraq for the first time, a monitoring group said.
ISIL, a splinter group of al Qaeda which wants to set up an Islamic caliphate encompassing both Iraq and Syria, has made rapid gains in Iraq in the past two weeks, taking control of the northern city of Mosul and major border crossings with Syria.
Its advances in Iraq appear to have spurred on the Syrian branch, which is fighting both the army of President Bashar al-Assad and also rival opposition groups such as the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, a more moderate force.
The Sunni Muslim ISIL fighters seized strategic Syrian towns near the Iraqi border from rivals last week.
For the first time, ISIL combatants have been using U.S-made Humvees – four-wheel drive military vehicles – in fighting in northern areas of Syria’s Aleppo province, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The vehicles, which appear to have been seized during ISIL’s recent Iraqi offensive, were used to gain control of villages outside the town of Azaz, close to the Turkish border, it said. [Continue reading…]