Nearly 500 Killed As Syrian Rebels Fight In North, Geneva II On Hold
Northern Syria has seen a bloody week as infighting between the country's rebel groups continues. At least 482 people have been killed in the region this week, according to British aid organization Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At the moment, Syria's rebels hold most of the northern provinces, where the worst fighting yet in the rebels' conflict broke out a week ago in four regions. The death toll includes 157 fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (or ISIL); 240 more moderate rebels; and 85 civilians.
The rebels' sides keep shifting as coalitions are formed and disbanded, and the ISIL is one of the newer players on the scene. They don't technically have a place in the civil conflict — their fighters aren't from Syria — and their black-and-white stance on Islamic law and harsh implementation of the law is against many of the rebel's more moderate interpretations.
But the ISIL's entrance has provided an opportunity for rebel groups that would otherwise fight Assad's regime, disjointedly, to band together. One of the newest alliances, the Islamic Front — which backed by the struggling National Coalition — launched attacks against ISIL last Friday. On Wednesday, they captured ISIL's stronghold in Aleppo, which was once a former children's hospital.
The violence comes as Geneva II, the conference intended to bring together the sides of the Syrian conflict in an effort to resolve the almost three-year-old civil war that's killed at least 100,000, remains in the process of being scheduled. Opposition groups' representatives met in Cordoba, Spain, to discuss who should attend the conference — or if they should at all — but couldn't come up with a decision. However, all 180 of them agreed a timeline was needed to end the fighting.
As the U.N.'s chemical-weapons team continues to work its way around Syria to disarm President Bashar Assad's chemical-weapons factories, Germany's made a sharp break from its previous stance and offered to get in the game. The nation, which previously said it wouldn't allow Syria's weapons within its borders, has offered to burn the waste from the weapons in an environmentally safe way in Munster.