by Jason Ditz
While most of the factions within the Syrian Civil War are party to an ongoing ceasefire, neither ISIS nor al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front were invited to take part. As those two factions continue to clash with myriad other groups, they’re also finding time to fight against one another.
Heavy fighting erupted in the Syrian Qalamoun Mountains on Sunday, with ISIS pushing into regions held by al-Qaeda. The fighting raged into Monday, and moved further west, with both sides crossing into Lebanon, where al-Qaeda forces aimed to take ISIS territory along the border.
Lebanon has struggled with spill-over violence throughout the Syrian Civil War, with both ISIS and Nusra operating around the hills in the Bekaa Valley, and occasionally clashing with Lebanese security forces in the town of Arsal.
All told, at least 18 Nusra fighters were killed, along with 14 ISIS fighters. Six Nusra fighters were also reported captured in the battles. Though the fighting appears to have reached a lull by Monday evening, it is liable to pick up again at any moment.
by Jason Ditz
Heavy fighting has erupted in northeastern Lebanon over the weekend between the major Islamist factions in the Syrian Civil War, ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, who fought on the outskirts of the town of Arsal, which is housing tens of thousands of refugees.
Reports from the area suggest at least nine ISIS and seven Nusra fighters were killed in the weekend fighting, and local Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri, seen as close to Nusra, is said to be trying to broker some sort of local truce between the two sides to end the fighting.
ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front have years of acrimony fueling these fights, dating back to ISIS’ attempt to absorb Nusra and become the official al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq and Syria, an attempt which led to ISIS’ ultimate split from al-Qaeda.
Since then, the two have fought over territory in Syria repeatedly, fighting which only really ended when their respective territories no longer had a common border. Even now, Nusra is said to be trying to establish mergers with other Islamist outlets to try to more directly compete with ISIS.
Both are keen to carry out strikes in Lebanon, and have a presence in Arsal, but this close proximity to one another seems to have boiled over into another round of fighting.
by Jason Ditz
Backed by Syrian warplanes, Russia is escalating its own airstrikes against ISIS territory, with a flurry of attacks on Deir Ezzor on Friday evening killing at least 36 people. 10 children were among the slain, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The attacks, like so many in recent days, centered around oilfields in ISIS-controlled territory, aiming to deny ISIS the revenue from oil smuggling. These oilfields are largely run by local and tribal factions, however, putting civilian workers in the targeting sights of US and Russian warplanes.
Russian strikes and increased military operations in the area are putting pressure on commercial flights as well, with Lebanon rerouting some flights out of Beirut, and Iraq announcing a temporary halt to flights into the Iraqi Kurdistan region because of cruise missiles in the vicinity.
The UN Security Council approved yet another anti-ISIS measure Friday, urging all nations to take “all necessary measures” against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The resolution, drafted by France, is just the latest in a series of resolutions which nations are using as the international legal justification for their ever-escalating strikes.
This article was submitted by guest Contributor Jason Ditz.
At least 26 people were killed, and 140 others reported wounded when a pair of suicide bombers detonated outside of the Iranian embassy in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut.
Though the initial assumption would’ve been the attack was more spillover from the Syrian Civil War, this does not appear to have been the case, as a domestic al-Qaeda faction, Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed credit for the strike, saying it was an attack on Lebanese Shi’ite faction Hezbollah, a close ally of Iran.
Of course it’s impossible at this point to fully disconnect Syria’s war and Lebanon’s growing sectarian tensions, but the al-Qaeda group’s has repeatedly blamed Hezbollah for the assassinations of Sunni politicians inside Lebanon.
Iran condemned the attacks as having been carried out by “Zionists and their mercenaries,” and insisted that they will not be chased out of their embassy by such attacks. It isn’t clear how many Iranians were among the slain, but Iran’s cultural attache to Lebanon, Ibrahim Ansari, was confirmed to have died of his wounds shortly after the attack.
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