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Eight Syrian Factions Merge… Massacre in Azaz | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A still image taken from a video obtained by Reuters shows people and a bulldozer moving debris after a fuel truck exploded in the centre of rebel-held Azaz, near Syria’s border with Turkey, January 7, 2017. REUTERS TV/via Reuters

Beirut- Sources at the Syrian opposition announced on Saturday that eight large opposition factions had merged in the north of Syria under the name of “Leadership Council For Liberation Of Syria.”

An opposition source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the factions that agreed to merge include: Ahrar al-Sham, Jaish al-Sham, Ajnad al-Sham, Soqour al-Sham, the Fastaqim Kama Umirt Union, Faylaq Al-Rahman, Faylaq Al-Sham and Jubhat Ahl al-Sham.

The mentioned factions have agreed on establishing a military body comprising the factions’ military leaders and also to form a political body including the heads of the political phalanges. Also, the leaders of the joining factions would represent the leadership of the council, where decisions would be taken unanimously.

The source said that the eight factions agreed to join hands after the failure of a previous attempt to merge moderate and extremist factions, mainly Fatah al-Sham, late last month.

Meanwhile, more than 60 people were killed and tens were injured when a large explosion targeted a packed market in the city of Azaz, north the Aleppo governorate on the Turkish borders.

Russia’s Sputnik news agency said that a car loaded with explosives exploded in the city center located close to the headquarters of the armed opposition group Ahrar al-Sham.

While the fingers of accusations were directly pointed at ISIS, Sputnik said around 50 members of Ahrar al-Sham were among those killed and injured by the explosion.

Separately, ISIS is now preparing for a battle in the Euphrates River and the city of Tabaqa, where the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces supported by American special forces had lately made an important advancement and are only 10 kilometers away from the terrorist group.

Also on Saturday, the Syrian Network for Human Rights announced that it had recorded violations committed during the first week of a truce agreement between Russia’s pro-regime forces and Turkey’s pro-opposition fighters. The SNHR said 11 people were killed, including a woman, two children and a baby by regime forces since Dec. 30, 2016.

The network also documented at least 178 ceasefire breaches including 160 committed by the Syrian regime. The SNHR also documented 14 violations by Russian forces, six in Aleppo, three in Hama and five in Idlib.