Al-Qaeda-linked armed groups have fought rival Syria militants near the country’s borders with Turkey in an outbreak of violence driven by the divisions between factions battling to rise to power in the Arab country.
The fighting illustrates the volatile situation in Syria as a team of chemical weapons experts start the process of eliminating the country’s chemical weapons stockpile, with inspections expected to begin next week.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) took control of the northern border town of Azaz last month, kicking out their former partners and prompting Turkey to shut the crossing about 5 km away.
ISIS, which wants to merge Syria into a larger state ruled by their own law, has maintained control of the town since then and clashes have periodically erupted between it and fighters of the Northern Storm brigade, which they had expelled to its outskirts.
The latest fighting broke out Tuesday night after a deadline ISIS had set for Northern Storm fighters to surrender their weapons came to an end.
“There are very fierce clashes on the outskirts of Azaz. ISIS cut all roads leading to Turkey and the situation is very tense,” said one militant source, speaking from Turkey.
Another activist from Azaz said ISIS had seized two checkpoints and a base from militant Northern Storm and had advanced toward the border. He said some ISIS fighters had been killed, but he did not know how many.
“What is happening in Aleppo is clearly a massive terrorist war, aimed at toppling a government, and not by its own people,” Al-Alam reporter said.
He added, “International organizations inaction over the brutal war which is claiming more lives each passing day is more questionable than ever”.
“al-Qaeda linked armed groups not only take victims from their opponents, but also there are many young people who are professionally brainwashed into putting their lives in danger for al-Qaeda to gain more power in Syria,” he said.
As the Syrian army has been fighting a massive foreign-sponsored war, fueled by regional and Western countries, the United States and its allies have not stopped their support to the leaders of the insurgency.
CIA operatives have been training Syria militants in Jordan borders while providing them with military support, according to reports, as huge amounts of money are being flushed into the hands of militants and al-Qaeda-linked groups from several countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
US Senator McCain, who has called for American military aid to militants, visited Azaz in May and was photographed alongside Northern Storm militants.
A US threat to bomb Syria over conflicting reports of a chemical attack on August 21 near Syrian capital was averted by Russia’s mediation that proposed to put Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons under international supervision to avoid further use of illegal weapons.
Syrian government, which has proposed the UN with evidence that reportedly indicate militants were behind the August 21 attack, welcomed the initiative and helped a UN disarmament team to enter the country and start their mission.
The conflict in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.
The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.