Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs
A newly formed al-Mujahideen Army pledged to cleanse Syrian lands from any presence for the powerful al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), rebel commander told Zaman Alwasl.
On Saturday, Syrian rebels battled ISIL fighters across the north-west of the country, Reuters reported.
The apparently coordinated strikes against the ISIL come after months of increasing resentment of the powerful al-Qaeda-linked group, whose radical foreign jihadists alienated many ordinary Syrians in the rebel-held territory.
Activists said dozens of fighters were killed in the clashes between rival rebel groups which have raged in Aleppo and Idlib provinces since Friday.
ISIL has mobilized its troops near the highway of Al-Bab city at the gate of Aleppo city as more reinforcements from Azaz had come to back the radical group that faces unexpected revolt by Syrian rebels, Zaman Alwasl source said.
Al Mujahideen Army has declared war on ISIL and joined other opposition groups in battling the extremists. For its part, Syria’s main opposition National Coalition says it backs the rebel fight against al-Qaeda.
“We, the Army of the Mujahideen, pledge to defend ourselves and our honor, wealth and lands, and to fight ISIL, which has violated the rule of God, until it announces its dissolution,” said the new alliance of eight groups, in a statement published on Facebook Friday.
As the statement was issued, it fought in fierce clashes with the ISIL in the Aleppo and Idlib provinces of northern Syria.
The Islamic Front, the largest rebel alliance, which is made up of several powerful Islamist groups, and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, another major rebel bloc, also battled ISIL on Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.
On Saturday, rebels battling jihadists in northern Syria killed or captured scores of the militants loyal to an al-Qaeda affiliate in two days of fighting, a watchdog said.
“At least 36 members and supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been killed since Friday in Idlib and more than 100 have been captured by rebels” in Idlib and Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Activists also said that Islamic rebels fighting in Syria have given ISIL 24 hours to surrender.
Ahmad al-Khatib, an activist in the Jabal al-Zawiya region in northwestern Idlib, said Islamic rebels have given ISIL members an ultimatum to surrender by Saturday afternoon.
Opposition backs fight against al-Qaeda
“The Syrian Opposition Coalition fully supports ongoing efforts by Free Syrian Army elements to liberate towns and neighborhoods from the authoritarian oppression” of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the group’s presidency said in a statement.
“The Coalition stands in full solidarity with all Syrians rising up against al-Qaeda’s extremism and calls upon the international community to recognize the importance of supporting revolutionary forces as partners in the fight against al-Qaeda’s extremism and Assad’s sponsorship and encouragement of extremist forces,” it added.
For its part, the Army of Mujahideen, a newly formed group made up of eight brigades, demanded that ISIL fighters join the ranks of other rebel groups “or hand over their weapons and leave Syria,” earlier on Saturday.
The alliance reproached ISIL for “spreading strife and insecurity... in liberated [rebel] areas, spilling the blood of fighters and wrongly accusing them of heresy, and expelling them and their families from areas they have paid heavily to free” from Assad’s forces.
ISIL backed by Assad
A high-ranking Syrian rebel army official told Al Arabiya News Channel Saturday that the ISIL is “a group of gangsters following” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Iran and Iraq.
The Secretary General of the Free Syrian Army, Captain Ammar al-Wawi, said the sole aim of ISIL is to “hijack the Syrian revolution,” which began after protests against Syrian President al-Assad in March 2011 transformed into a civil war.
Speaking from the Syrian-Turkish borders via Skype, Captain al-Wawi said ISIL “deliberately committed atrocities on Syrian soil, including killing and kidnapping many members of different groups and religious sects in Syria.”
The rebel commander showed a picture of a man named Mohammad Mustapha Faham, who appeared as a bearded ISIL fighter, but was supposedly a Syrian regime intelligence officer.
Another person he presented was Mohammad Bassem Yasseen, also known as Abu al-Baraa al-Samaraei, who entered Syria as an ISIL fighter, but targeted activists serving the “Syrian revolution.”
The captain described the majority of ISIL fighters as attempting to kill and arrest both activists and rebels.
He added that ISIL surrounded a hospital in Jisr al-Shaghour city in Idlib province on Friday and killed a doctor that goes by the name Abu Rayan.
He also said the al-Qaeda group has arrested some of the demonstration organizers in other regions.
ISIL says behind Beirut bombing
The Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing last week in the stronghold of the “criminal” Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
ISIL penetrated the “security system of the Party of Satan (Hezbollah)... and crush its strongholds... in a first small payment from the heavy account that is awaiting those wicked criminals,” Agence France-Presse quoted the al-Qaeda-linked group as saying in a statement posted onto a website page used by Sunni militants.
The bombing, which took place Thursday in Beirut’s Haret Hreik district, killed at least five people and wounded 77.
It was the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Lebanon in recent months as Syria’s civil war spills into its smaller neighbor.
Hezbollah’s fighters are aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war that pits him largely against Sunni Muslims, including ISIL.
The army, meanwhile, said Saturday that a young man from northern Lebanon was the bomber who blew himself up.
“The DNA test results on the remains of a suicide attacker found in the car used in the bomb attack... confirm they belong to the youth Qutaiba al-Satem,” said the army.
It added: “Investigations are ongoing by the relevant judicial authorities to uncover the full details of the event.”
An official from Satem’s native Sunni-majority area of Wadi Khaled told AFP on Friday suspicions over the 20-year-old’s role were based on a family document found at the scene of the blast. (With Agencies)
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