NGO: Nearly 1,400 dead since rebel-jihadist infighting began
Rebel fighters gesture next to the bodies of handcuffed and blindfolded dead men laying on the ground of the Aleppo headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant earlier this month. (AFP/File)
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Nearly 1,400 people have been killed in Syria since clashes between opposition forces and the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) broke out earlier this month, an NGO said Thursday.
"The number of people killed in fighting between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Islamist and rebel forces since January 3 has risen to 1,395," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday, according to Agence France Presse.
The Observatory broke down their figures, adding that out of the total, 760 of the dead were moderate and Islamist rebels, 426 were ISIL fighters, 190 were civilians and 19 were not yet identified, AFP said.
Fierce battles between rebels and jihadists from the Al Qaeda-affiliated ISIL broke out in January after months of rising tensions between the groups, who are ostensibly on the same side of the conflict, fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
While rebel fighters were initially pleased to have foreing fighters backing their struggle against Assad's forces, ISIL has been acused of perpetrating a string of inhumane abuses against civilians and rival rebel groups, AFP reported. ISIL also seeks hegemony over the other rebels through the militant jihadist nature of their organization.
During the clashes with other rebel groups, ISIL has lost ground in Syria's Idlib and Aleppo but it has consolidated its hold over Raqqa city, the only provincial capital to fall from regime control, AFP reported.