NGO: 'Hardly any' Qaeda fighters left in Aleppo
Mourners carry the body of a comrade killed during battles with members of the al-Qaeda-linked group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in the northern city of Aleppo, on January 8, 2014.
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There are “hardly any” jihadists from the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are left in Aleppo, a Syrian NGO said Wednesday after the fall of ISIL’s headquarters there.
“ISIL withdrew from the Inzarat area after clashes with fighters from rebel... brigades, and the post office building was taken over by Islamist rebel fighters” who had been battling ISIL, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“There are hardly any ISIL members left in the city of Aleppo.”
The ISIL headquarters was seized earlier by fighters from several Syrian rebel brigades.
“Fighters from several Islamist rebel brigades took control of the children's hospital in the Qadi Askar district, which is the headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the city,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
ISIL on Tuesday urged its fighters to “crush” other rebel groups in Syria, in an audio message from the group’s spokesman.
ISIL’s threat came hours after a rival al-Qaeda group said it has joined forces with other rebel groups in fighting ISIL.
Al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani said in an audio recording that “high-level” fighting erupted between his group and ISIL on Tuesday.
He blamed the fighting on what he said were “mistakes” made by ISIL, such as the arrest of a Nusra commander in Raqqa.
“This unfortunate situation prompted us to make this initiative to save the ground from loss. This initiative calls for the formation of a legitimate committee from all recognized factions with an independent leadership,” he said.
Golani also noted that all infighting in the groups must end and an exchange of prisoners should take place, adding that rebels should focus their efforts on fighting Assad’s forces and not fighting each other.