Conflict & Justice

Al Qaeda-linked radicals help Syrian rebels capture army base


A Syrian opposition fighter keeps the queue in order as people line up to buy bread outside a bakery in the al-Fardos neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on December 9, 2012.



Radical Islamists linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq have helped rebels capture a Syrian army outpost, Reuters reported today.

One of the more prominent groups, Jabhat al-Nusra, bolstered Syrians fighting against President Bashar al-Assad’s troops in the north.

Together, they captured five soldiers from the 111th regiment, according to Reuters.

Jabhat al-Nusra wants an Islamic state inside Syria, the newswire said, and is operating inside Syria despite its exclusion from a rebel leadership group.

While rebels claim to be closing in on the capital Damascus, US and Russian politicians are meeting with UN peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to discuss the 20-month Syrian civil war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said reports that his country is ready to soften its stance on Assad are wrong.

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After US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Lavrov and Brahimi late last week in Ireland, reports were that Russia has started to lose its patience with Assad.

That’s not true, Lavrov said, and Russia is only discussing Syria on the assurance a peace deal wouldn’t force him from power.

“We are not conducting any negotiations on the fate of Assad,” Lavrov said Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

“All attempts to portray things differently are unscrupulous, even for diplomats of those countries which are known to try to distort the facts in their favor.”

Also today, activists said nine Syrian judges and prosecutors from the city of Adlib defected.

They posted a video online and urged others to follow their lead, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the AP.

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