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Middle east

Islamist militants open new front in battle for Syria

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-18

Members of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) have fled across the border into Turkey following fighting with a new enemy: al Qaeda-linked fighters who would like to turn Syria into an Islamic state. FRANCE 24 reports from this new battlefront.

For more than two years rebel militias, including Islamists, have squared off against forces loyal to President Bashar al Assad. But in recent weeks the battlefield has shifted dramatically, with the FSA and al Qaeda-linked fighters turning their guns on each other.

Militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran the north-eastern Syrian city of Tel Abyad last week, raising al Qaeda’s black flag over the conquered city.

It was one of several important victories for Islamists in the region.

As a resul, a wave of Syrian refugees, including dozens of FSA fighters, spilled across the border with Turkey to escape the advancing ISIL militia.

The FSA is now gathering its forces in Turkey and scrambling to avoid further setbacks, but it is feeling increasingly isolated.

While they face a new front in this bitter war, they complain that the Syrian National Coalition, which is supposed to represent them on the diplomatic stage, is disconnected from the reality on the ground.

To watch FRANCE 24’s full report from the Syrian-Turkish border, click on the player above.

Date created : 2014-01-18

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