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Syrian Rebels Launch Fierce Offensive Against Al Qaeda Fighters

Syrian rebel factions battled fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) across north-west Syria on Saturday in the heaviest clashes between President Bashar al-... More Syrian rebel factions battled fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) across north-west Syria on Saturday in the heaviest clashes between President Bashar al-Assad's opponents in nearly three years of conflict, activists said. The apparently coordinated strikes against the ISIL come after months of increasing resentment of the powerful al Qaeda-linked group, whose radical foreign jihadis have alienated many ordinary Syrians in rebel-held territory. Activists said dozens of fighters were killed in the clashes between rival rebel groups which have raged since Friday in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, close to the border with Turkey. Rebel infighting has strengthened Assad's hand ahead of planned peace talks in Geneva on January 22. The president, backed by Shi'ite fighters from Iraq and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, has pushed back rebels around Damascus and in central Syria, and faces little pressure to make concessions. Less

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