Al Qaeda in Syria leaves area where Turkey seeks buffer

Reuters reports: The al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front says it has quit frontline positions against Islamic State north of Aleppo and ceded them to other rebels, leaving an area of northern Syria where Turkey wants to set up a buffer zone.

A Nusra Front statement dated Sunday criticized a Turkish-U.S. plan to drive Islamic State from the Syrian-Turkish border area, saying the aim was to serve “Turkey’s national security” rather than the fight against President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States and Turkey last month announced their intention to drive Islamic State from a strip of territory in northern Syria near the Turkish border in a campaign that would provide air cover for Syrian rebels in the area.

Though Nusra is an enemy of Islamic State, its foothold in northern Syria has been a problem for the U.S.-led campaign against the ultra-hardline group. Late last month, Nusra attacked Syrian rebels trained as part of the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State, calling them agents of U.S. interests. [Continue reading…]

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