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Syrian rebels kill major Al-Qaeda figure in clashes near Idlib - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A Free Syrian Army fighter talks to his fellow fighters as they hold their weapons near the Justice Palace in Aleppo on September 29, 2013. (REUTERS/Hamid Khatib)

A Free Syrian Army fighter talks to his fellow fighters as they hold their weapons near the Justice Palace in Aleppo on September 29, 2013. (REUTERS/Hamid Khatib)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Free Syrian Army (FSA) yesterday forced members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to withdraw from the village of Hazano in the Rif Idlib area, following violent clashes which led to the killing of ISIS field commander, Emir Abu Abdullah Al-Libi and 12 of his men, according to activists.

Hamza Habboush, FSA field commander in Idlib, told Asharq Al-Awsat that members of ISIS launched an attack on opposition forces fighting in the Idlib villages.

Habboush said ISIS fighters tried to storm the village of Hazano but were forced back by the FSA, adding that six civilians from the village were killed during the clashes with the Fudoul Alliance, which is affiliated to the FSA.

The Idlib clashes follow similar incidents in the recent days in the Aazaz area between ISIS and members of the North Storm Brigade of the FSA, when the latter refused to hand over a German doctor who ISIS accused of taking pictures of its base in the town near the Turkish border. Both sides, however, agreed a truce, mediated by the Tawhid Brigade, one of the largest opposition factions in the Aleppo region.

The North Storm Brigade, however, said ISIS had failed to meet the second part of the truce agreement which stipulated the release of all detainees, releasing only nine.

The North Storm Brigade issued a statement which said “48 hours after the end of a deadline to implement the agreement, ISIS is considered to have broken the agreement.” This could restart hostilities between the two sides.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said ISIS had also clashed with the Al-Nusra Front, when they stormed one of their bases in the Hasaka region, northeast Syria two days ago. Activists said the base was not heavily occupied because the men were busy fighting against Kurdish People’s Protection Units which belong to the Kurdish Democratic Union.

The FSA, in the meantime, continued to fight the Syrian government forces, announcing it had taken control of four new villages in Rif Halab (Aleppo), two days after taking control of seven villages in the same area, according to the activists.

The advances made by the opposition come within a massive military operation which aims to surround the Al-Safirah defense works, one of the largest arms and ammunition supply centers for government forces in the northern region. This has forced government forces to defend villages on the route between the defense works and Aleppo airport.

Meanwhile, Sham news agency, a pro-government agency, has announced the restart of clashes in the Barza area in Damascus, which the government forces had been trying to storm for months. SANA news agency quoted an official military source as saying “regular forces have made progress in Barza and killed insurgents there. They also killed more insurgents in the Qaboun and Zabadani areas.”

More clashes erupted near the municipality building in Yarmouk camp south of Damascus. Activists published a video on You Tube showing an explosion at one of the regular forces’ headquarters in the Jober area of Damascus.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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