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Syria rebels clash again with jihadists behind Iraq crisis

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Published : 2014-06-17 22:33
Updated : 2014-06-17 22:33

BEIRUT (AFP) -- New clashes have erupted in eastern Syria between rebels seeking President Bashar al-Assad's ouster and jihadists that have captured swathes of territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitor said Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday night's fighting broke out when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant "tried to push an advance" in the village of Basira, in eastern Deir Ezzor province close to Iraq.

Blasts went off as ISIL militants targeted the rebel brigades and their Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front allies in the oil-rich province, said the Observatory.

ISIL, which aims to establish an Islamic emirate straddling Iraq and Syria, first emerged in Syria in 2013, two years into the country's civil war.

Some rebels originally welcomed ISIL to the battle, but its abuses and quest for dominance sparked a backlash that escalated in January into open hostilities with moderate and Islamist rebels backed by Al-Nusra.

While ISIL has been pushed out of Idlib province in the northwest and much of Aleppo in the north, it remains firmly in control of Raqa province and has a strong presence in Hasakeh and Deir Ezzor.

In Deir Ezzor, fighting has been intermittent, and paused for two weeks until Monday night, a week after jihadists led by ISIL launched an offensive in neighboring Iraq.


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