Syrian rebels turn on each other in Azaz

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In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 photo, a Syrian opposition fighter watches over as heavy fighting breaks out in in the Idlib province countryside, Syria. For Syria's divided and beleaguered rebels, the creeping realization that there will not be a decisive Western military intervention on their behalf is a huge psychological blow. It now appears that the regime of Bashar Assad has gained time, largely because the world community is too concerned that if he is toppled the result may be an Islamist Syria in the grip of al-Qaida. The immediate result, this week, has been an uptick in infighting between moderate and jihadi rebels.(AP Photo)
In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 photo, a Syrian opposition fighter watches over as heavy fighting breaks out in in the Idlib province countryside in Syria. For Syria’s divided and beleaguered rebels, the creeping realization that there will not be a decisive Western military intervention on its behalf is a huge psychological blow. It now appears that the regime of Bashar Assad has gained time, largely because the world community is too concerned that if he is toppled the result may be an Islamist Syria in the grip of al-Qaida. The immediate result, this week, has been an uptick in infighting between moderate and jihadi rebels.(AP Photo)

Syrian rebels to Bashar al-Assad’s regime are fighting two wars — one against Assad’s forces, and another against members of their own opposition.

The Free Syrian Army, the main Western-backed opposition force, was forced out of the town of Azaz by a separate rebel group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, according to a BBC report on Sept. 19. The fighting resulted in several deaths and possibly as many as 100 captured fighters.

Rebel infighting is a long-standing issue in Syria due to several opposition groups with different interests. “The makeup of the Syrian rebellion is diverse but it’s all heading under this more jihadist atmosphere,” said Mike Godfrey, president of Praemon, the national security journal on campus.

IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy group that provides intel on weapons and strategy, claimed that of the 100,000 opposition fighters, 10,000 are “jihadists,” and about 30,000 more are hard-core Islamists that align with jihadist principles. Al Qaeda has a large presence in the Free Syrian Army, and it has its own branches of fighters — ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

“Either one of these two tend to lead the assaults,” Godfrey said.

While in some regions the two groups cooperate their attacks as allies, other regions experience the great dynamics of the two groups that can lead to sectarian conflict.

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