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http://dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Dec-07/240266-islamists-seize-free-syrian-army-arms-depots-activists.ashx#axzz2mtMPwDBh


Islamists seize Free Syrian Army arms depots: activistsDecember 07, 2013 03:59 PM (Last updated: December 07, 2013 07:35 PM)
Agence France Presse
Rebel fighters take up position during an offensive on the Canadian hospital building, which they said is being controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo, December 4, 2013. Picture taken December 4, 2013.  REUTERS/Houssam Abo Dabak
Rebel fighters take up position during an offensive on the Canadian hospital building, which they said is being controlled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo, December 4, 2013. Picture taken December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Houssam Abo Dabak
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BEIRUT: The largest Islamist rebel force in Syria seized arms depots belonging to the mainstream Western-backed Free Syrian Army on Saturday, a watchdog said, highlighting tensions among rebel groups.

"After combat that lasted all night, fighters from the Islamic Front captured (FSA) general staff positions near the Bab el-Hawa border crossing (with Turkey) and seized their arms depots," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory said the arms had been brought across the border from Turkey and that five fighters were killed, but it did not say from what side.

The seizure comes four days after the Islamic Front announced that it rejected the authority of the FSA command.

The FSA was the first organised rebel military entity to emerge after peaceful demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 degenerated into an armed uprising.

It was made up of army deserters and civilians.

Since then, numerous other groups have emerged, many of them Islamist, which are operating with a high degree of autonomy from the FSA if not totally independently.

The Islamic Front was formed last month when six groups merged and pledged to work towards forming an Islamic state.

Syria's civil war, which has killed more than 126,000 people and displaced millions, has become more complicated as jihadist and other rebel groups battle not only Assad but, increasingly, each other.

In violence elsewhere on Saturday, at least 12 civilians -- among them women and children -- were killed in air raids on the jihadist-held northern town of Raqa, the Observatory said.

It also said the civilian toll from Friday air raids on another northern town, Bezaa, had risen to 20, among them eight children and nine women, one of them pregnant.

A member of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside Assad's forces, was killed on Saturday in Nabuk, one of the last rebel-held areas of the strategic Qalamoun area bordering Lebanon.

The Observatory said that at least 18 people, including children, have been killed by regime forces in a shelter in Nabuk at an unspecified time, in a new toll a day after reporting 17 deaths.

The opposition National Coalition called the killings "a massacre" and said they were carried out on Friday in the government-controlled Al-Fattah district.

"Assad forces, their mercenaries and sectarian militias carried out a horrible massacre Friday morning... killing dozens of civilians, including women and children who had sought safety in an underground shelter," an opposition statement said.
"After the massacre, regime forces torched the bodies in a bid to conceal their crime."

Taking the Nabuk area would cement regime control of territory linking Damascus province with Homs province to the north.
 


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Al-Qaeda Kidnaps 51 Kurds in Northern Syria

Civilians Were Captured During Fighting Over Aleppo Towns

by Jason Ditz, December 05, 2013
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) fighters have kidnapped 51 Kurdish civilians in Aleppo Province, including nine children.
The Kurds were taken during three days of AQI fighting against the Kurdish towns of Minbej and Jarablus, and it is unclear where the abductees have been taken.
Though Kurdish militias have ousted AQI and other Islamist factions from more or less all of the northeastern region along the Iraq border, Kurdish towns and villages in Aleppo Province, where Islamist rebels control much of the countryside, remain under constant threat.
This points to the civil war continuing to boil down into three distinct territories, the Kurdish northeast, the rebel north-northwest, and the government held south. In all cases, those on the losing sides will remain targets of ethnic and sectarian cleansing.


Hezbollah Threatens Retaliation Against Israel for Assassination

Israel 'Happy' About Killing But Denies Blame

by Jason Ditz, December 05, 2013
According to a report in a Lebanese newspaper, Hezbollah is blaming Israel for the assassination of top commander Hassan al-Lakkis, saying that they will retaliate for the killing.
Lakkis was assassinated in Beirut Wednesday, shot by an unidentified gunman. A previously unknown faction calling itself the Brigades of the Free Sunnis of Baalbak claimed the killing, but security officials said the assassination bore the hallmarks of an Israeli hit.
Israeli officials said they were “happy” with the assassination of Lakkis, who they had unsuccessfully tried to kill multiple times in the past. They insist, however, that this time it really wasn’t them.
The Sunni faction that claimed credit for the killing suggested the killing was linked to the Syrian Civil War, and while spillover from them is nothing new, Israel’s long history of targeted killings means suspicion will continue to be on them in the absence of real evidence.