World Bulletin / News Desk
An al Qaeda affiliate has captured a northern Syrian town on the border with Turkey after ousting a rebel unit and detained its leader, activists said on Thursday.
The fall of the town of Atma, a crossing point for weapons and for Syrian rebels, signals disarray among some of the rebel groups.
Some of these groups are now playing a lesser role on the battlefield in the war against President Bashar al-Assad's forces, opposition sources said.
Activists said fighters of the al Qaeda affiliate - Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL - had stormed the headquarters of Suqur al-Islam, a moderate unit that controlled Atma, and set up roadblocks within the last 48 hours.
They detained Mustafa Waddah, the head of Suqur al-Islam, along with two dozen of his men.
A brief firefight took place at the headquarters and also near a Turkish security post in the town of Bukulmez, which overlooks Atma and its hilly terrain, the sources said.
With its proximity to Turkey, Atma has been largely spared shelling and air raids by Assad's forces. But thousands of people who fled bombings elsewhere in the country had taken refuge in the town and surrounding area.
"The ISIL deployed anti-aircraft guns at the main roundabout and took Atma quietly," said one of the activists, who did not want to be named.
He said Waddah's whereabouts were not known, but he may have been taken to the town of Dana, an ISIL stronghold where the group had set up a religious court.
Suqur al-Islam is a unit of the Free Syrian Army General Staff, headed by General Selim Idriss, the main opposition military figure, who is based in Turkey. But Suqur al-Islam and the General Staff have fallen out over sharing the weapons crossing through Atma, the activists said.
In the last few days, fighting erupted between Sukur al-Islam and other Free Syrian Army members after Sukur al-Islam seized seven trucks loaded with weapons sent by the General Staff that crossed through Atma.
"Suqur al-Islam were exhausted after the fighting with the General Command and the ISIL walked easily into their headquarters," said Abdallah al-Sheikh, an activist in Atma.
"Basically there was collusion between the General Staff and the ISIL."
Officials of the Free Syrian Army General Staff were not immediately available for comment.
Free Syrian Army units, including Sukur al-Islam and the ISIL had cooperated in the region before, mainly to fight Kurdish militia linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party who had encroached on Atma, the activists said.
However, the two sides have also fought against each other, underscoring the complex relationships among Assad's foes.
In August the ISIL took control of the northern border town of Azaz, expelling another Free Syrian Army unit and prompting Turkey to close a nearby border crossing.
Witnesses reported additional raids in the town of Birzeit in the West Bank's Ramallah province.
New Amnesty report says civilians in Aleppo bearing the brunt of 'systematic killing.'
Hollande was welcomed at King Khalid International Airport by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz
Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. Navy had accompanied one British ship through the strait following talks between Washington and London and others would follow.
The five defendants were condemned to death for storming a police station in Kerdasa – a town in Egypt's Giza province
French and Qatar signed on Monday a 6.3 billion euro $7.02 billion) agreement for the sale of 24 Dassault Aviation-built Rafale fighter jets.
A Syrian senior army figure had been wounded and said five people involved in a suicide attack in the bustling central district of Rukn al Din had been killed.
More and more people were put in jail every day in contravention of freedom of speech.
French President Francois Hollande arrived in Qatar on Monday to oversee the signing of the deal to sell 24 Rafale fighter jets.
The army source told state television the security forces had killed all the members of armed group in the bustling Rukn al Din district during a chase after a suicide bomber blew himself up.
Police in Israel have fired tear gas and stun grenades in clashes with ethnic Ethiopians protesting about what they say is police brutality and racism.
Thousands of Ethiopian Jews demonstrated on Sunday in Tel Aviv to protest Israeli police's heavy-handed practices against their community.
On Friday, Kuwaiti security forces arrested al-Tabtabaie for a tweet in which he claimed that there was pressure from Tehran to sideline Kuwaiti Crown Prince Nawaf Al-Jaber Al-Sabah
Some soldiers belonging to the Saudi-led Arab coalition were deployed Saturday night in Yemen's southern province Aden, local residents have said.
Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told there were no non-Yemeni forces fighting in Aden
According to sources, Arab troops join pro-Hadi group fighting Houthis near Aden airport