Middle East

Bomb kills 5 as Syria rebels clash with ISIS

People inspect a site hit by what activists said was a barrel bomb dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in Aleppo's district of Sukkari June 16, 2014. REUTERS/Hosam Katan

BEIRUT: A car bomb killed five people, as clashes re-erupted in eastern Syria between rebels and a jihadist group that has captured swathes of territory in neighboring Iraq, activists said Tuesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday night's fighting broke out when the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) "tried to push an advance" in the village of Basira, located in the east of Deir al-Zor province close to Iraq.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that Tuesday's bombing occurred in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor near the offices of the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and another group, Ahrar al-Sham.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, says an Ahrar al-Sham commander in the area and an Islamic judge affiliated with the Nusra Front were among those killed in the blast.

There was no claim of responsibility for the bombing.

ISIS, which aims to establish an Islamic emirate straddling Iraq and Syria, first emerged in Syria in 2013, two years into the conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and those fighting to oust him.

Some of Syria's armed opposition originally welcomed ISIS to the battle, but its abuses and quest for dominance sparked a backlash that in January escalated into open hostilities with moderate and Islamist rebels backed by the Nusra Front.

While ISIS has been pushed out of Idlib province in the northwest and much of Aleppo in the north, it remains firmly in control of Raqa province and has a strong presence in Hassakeh and Deir al-Zor.

In Deir al-Zor, fighting has been intermittent, and paused for two weeks until Monday night, a week after jihadists led by ISIS launched an offensive in neighboring Iraq.

The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 as a peaceful uprising, but it exploded into a full-blown civil war when Assad's forces launched a massive crackdown on dissent.

More than 160,000 people are estimated to have been killed, and millions of people have been uprooted by the violence.





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