Conflict & Justice

Syrian Rebels Turn Their Guns on Each Other

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Credit: Photo: REUTERS - Molhem Barakat
Members of the "Liwaa al-Sultan Mrad" brigade, operating under the Free Syrian Army, walk along a street in Aleppo's Bustan al-Basha district on September 19, 2013.

The World's host, Aaron Schachter spoke with correspondent Marine Olivesi in Hatay, Turkey about reports out of Azaz – and the rising violence between Syrian rebel militias.

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The trend must be fabulously welcome news to the embattled Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. After all, rebels killing rebels takes the burden off Syrian government forces, who are engaged in their own fight for survival against opposition forces. As one FSA commander tells the Washington Post:

"There is a huge expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant," said Col. Malik al-Kurdi, a senior commander in the Free Syrian Army, who said the extremists had also recently seized the town of Kafarnaje. With Islamic State well-financed and armed, "the FSA power is in reversal," he said.

The escalation of conflict between mainstream rebel groups and Islamic State is likely to further bolster Assad's position as his government steps up its operations.

"Now the conflict is internal, and it's the regime that is benefiting," Kurdi said.

But the open rift between the moderate and jihadi wings of the Syrian opposition could also present an opportunity, writes Hassan Hassan at Foreign Policy:

If the United States wants to move against jihadists in Syria, there has never been a better time. Tensions between moderate rebel groups and extremist forces are coming to a head across the country.

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