BEIRUT

Middle East

Jihadist ISIS inks truce with Syria rebel brigade

A fighter from the Islamic Front sits on a motorcycle in Binnish in Idlib province February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Loubna Mrie

BEIRUT: The jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria has signed a truce deal in Syria with an Islamist rebel brigade involved in a widespread armed backlash against it.

The deal signed Tuesday between ISIS and Suqour al-Sham was posted online on Wednesday, and also reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It calls for "an immediate halt to fighting between the sides and no assault by either side on the other in any way".

It also urges that any disagreements between the groups be referred to an Islamic court.

Jihadist groups were initially welcomed to the Syrian conflict by some in the opposition.

But ISIS has sparked a fierce backlash from both moderate and Islamist brigades because of alleged abuses against civilians and rival armed opposition groups.

Since January 3, a coalition of those rebel groups has been fighting ISIS across areas under opposition control, including Idlib, Aleppo and Raqa provinces.

The fighting has killed more than 1,700 people, according to the Observatory, and has drawn attention and resources away from the fight against the regime in some places.

ISIS grew from the Islamic State of Iraq, a one-time Al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq that expanded into Syria after the conflict there began.

The group sought to merge with the jihadist Al-Nusra Front in Syria, but the Front rebuffed the overture and pledged allegiance directly to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Zawahiri says Al-Nusra is Al-Qaeda's official branch in Syria, and has distanced his organisation from ISIS, unsuccessfully ordering them to return to Iraq.

Al-Nusra has largely stayed out of the fighting against ISIS, but an array of moderate brigades as well as Islamist groups from the Islamic Front -- including Suqour al-Sham -- have been involved in fierce clashes with ISIS.

 

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