51 Dead as al-Nusra Front Loses Ground to ISIL on Syria's Border with Iraq

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Syria's al-Qaida affiliate lost ground to its jihadist rivals around a town on the Iraqi border on Thursday in heavy fighting that left 51 combatants dead, a monitoring group said.

The fighting erupted at dawn after an assault by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on posts held by al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front and its allies.

The clashes centered around the border town of al-Bukamal, from which ISIL was expelled from earlier this year, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said 51 fighters were killed.

The bodies of another 10 fighters, apparently executed by ISIL, were found at two sites near al-Bukamal, the Observatory said, adding there were reports of other summary executions in the same area.

Earlier, the monitoring group's head Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse that ISIL was advancing in al-Bukamal and had taken control of several districts previously held by al-Nusra and other Islamist brigades.

The clashes prompted soldiers on the Iraqi side of the border to reinforce their positions.

The border crossing itself on the Syrian side remained in the hands of the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army, according to a rebel chief and an AFP reporter on the Iraqi side.

The Observatory said earlier that fighters of the ISIL, a cross-border group which has been disowned by al-Qaida's leadership, launched a three-pronged assault on positions held by al-Nusra and its allies.

Al-Nusra, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for a twin car bombing in a pro-government area of the central city of Homs that killed 25 people and wounded more than 100 on Wednesday.

ISIL fighters were driven out of al-Bukamal in heavy fighting earlier this year and are seeking to link up with their comrades over the border in Iraq, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

"Since dawn there has been fierce fighting inside al-Bukamal. ISIL is advancing and has taken control of several neighborhoods of the town which were previously held byal-Nusra Front and Islamist brigades," he said.

Later in the day, Iraqi troops put up blast walls and sand berms on their side of the crossing, the AFP correspondent reported.

Al-Bukamal has been under the control of fighters opposed to the Damascus regime since November 2012, but al-Nusra and its allies forced out ISIL fighters in heavy fighting earlier this year.

The Euphrates valley town had a pre-war population of some 70,000.

Syrian government troops control just one official crossing on the Iraqi border -- al-Tanaf/al-Walid on the main highway to Baghdad.

A third crossing, Yarabiyah/Rabia in the northeast, is controlled by Kurdish militia.

Al-Nusra said Wednesday's twin bombing in the mainly Alawite Karm al-Loz district of Homs had targeted militia loyal to President Bashar Assad's Alawite-dominated regime.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the group said its militants had "penetrated one of the bastions of the Shabiha and placed two car bombs that detonated a half hour apart during a Shabiha gathering."

On Thursday, rebels, including al-Nusra fighters, seized a building near a military intelligence headquarters in the Zahra district of the main northern city of Aleppo, the Observatory said.

In Homs, unidentified gunmen killed 14 people, including several children, in the Karm al-Zeitun neighborhood.

The Observatory said the attack was carried out by pro-regime militia, but the state SANA news agency said an "armed terrorist group" was behind it.

Homs was an epicenter of the revolt but is now almost entirely in regime hands, with small pockets of rebels holding out in besieged areas in and around the devastated Old City.

Comments 12
Thumb zahle1 10 April 2014, 14:58

I like how we used to talk about Al Nusra like they were the takfiri extremists and the worst of the worst, and now on here they are portrayed as the good guys battling the evil ISIL. They are all the same garbage.

Thumb ado.australia 10 April 2014, 15:11

Al nusra is al Qaida representative in Syria. ISIS was excommunicated because they are too extreme! Too extreme for al Qaida? What a glorious option the Syrians can choose their democratic freedom from... Jason or Freddy Kruger

Thumb cedre 10 April 2014, 18:29

'I like how we used to talk about Al Nusra like they were the takfiri extremists'

u used to talk that way, coz u dont know whats happening in syria...

Thumb zahle1 11 April 2014, 07:32

I know it must be hard for you to explain this garbage and why they hate and kill civilians in the name of God like nobody else. It's easy for me to understand what's going on. It seems you struggle to admit what is happening with your allies of your allies.Don't give me this they are all foreigners crap. I'm not an Assad fanboy by any means but we don't need these wack jobs gaining ground in Syria or Lebanon.

Thumb cedre 11 April 2014, 12:13

zahle1 both are not my allies, both are takfiris, both are not wanted in the levant.
But there are ideological differences between both groups that u cant understand if u dont follow them, ie at least listening Adnani's, Jolani's, Zawahiri's statements. U need as well to have knowledge abou islamist khawarij groups, their history, etc...

Is it ur case zahle ?

Missing coolmec 10 April 2014, 16:42

Soo true.. too bad specially for Lebanon. look where this country was and where it is now.....

Missing --karim-- 10 April 2014, 19:09

Good to see the FSA-Al Qaeda jihadist terrorists fighting each other.

Thumb kanaandian 10 April 2014, 21:31

soon they will all be dead

Missing VINCENT 11 April 2014, 03:17

I am not sure whether solely those people with extreme views practicing Islam corrupted the religion, or the very principals of the religion itself never stood on firm foundation and was subject to misuse/misapplication, or combination of both, at the end of the day, Islam is in deep trouble and needs to be overhauled under unified consensus. The rest of the world and/or new emerging military or economic super powers will not put up with the current nonsense. Effort and courage is not enough without purpose, direction and vision. So, if you are promoting Islam, what is your selling point?

Default-user-icon Hanoun (Guest) 11 April 2014, 11:31

god bless president busch:
I will take the war to their land and kill them till the last one
(after 9/11)

Thumb cedre 11 April 2014, 12:29

' it was a nusra guy who ate the liver off a dead soldier'
ft lying like every other day of the week, that guy is called Abu Saqr and part of the farouk brigade not JAN...
But we all know how ur assadi lovers are nice guys...


Thumb cedre 11 April 2014, 20:12

they beheaded 100 guys all together, bashar killed 300k+...