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FSA, Islamist factions pledge to reconcile
File - A Free Syrian Army fighter prays in Old Aleppo, December 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Molhem Barakat)
File - A Free Syrian Army fighter prays in Old Aleppo, December 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Molhem Barakat)
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BEIRUT: Two alliances of Syrian rebels have concluded a reconciliation after a series of recent clashes and arrests, pro-opposition websites reported Tuesday.

The Islamic Front, a group of seven Islamist militias, and the Syrian Rebel Front, representing 14 units affiliated with the mainstream Free Syrian Army, agreed to bury their differences in the wake of the seizure of FSA warehouses and headquarters on the Turkish-Syrian border earlier this month by the Islamic Front.

The two sides pledged to halt their verbal attacks on each other via the media, and said they had formed an arbitration committee in order to settle their differences.

The outlets said that Jamal Maarouf, of the Syrian Rebel Front, and Hasan Abboud, representing the Islamic Front, concluded the four-point agreement, which says the two groups are “brothers on the path of jihad.”

The two sides reportedly conducted a series of seven meetings, with the last one taking place Monday, to iron out the agreement.

Abboud had earlier accused Maarouf’s men of arresting an unspecified number of fighters from his Ahrar al-Sham Movement, one of the seven groups making up the Islamic Front. The fighters were eventually released, the opposition websites said, before Monday’s agreement was endorsed.

The arrests came after Islamic Front fighters seized depots and offices belonging to the FSA in the Bab al-Hawa border crossing area earlier this month. The move prompted the U.S. and the U.K. to announce that they were suspending shipments of non-lethal aid to the rebels.

The FSA leadership in Turkey and the Islamic Front had denied that the Bab al-Hawa incidents were a case of infighting, claiming that the FSA had asked for help from the Islamic Front when threatened by an attack by hard-line jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 18, 2013, on page 8.
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