Rebel fighters dig a trench near a front line in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on February 27, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/ ALEPPO MEDIA CENTRE / FADI AL-HALABI)
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The jihadist Islamic State of Greater Syria (ISIS) began withdrawing from parts of northern Syrian in a bid to protect their strongholds ahead of a looming showdown with Al-Qaeda rivals from Nusra Front.Nusra Front has threatened ISIS with all-out war if it does not submit to a Saturday deadline for mediation by an Islamic court over allegations it assassinated an Islamist commander with close Al-Qaeda links. Since January, ISIS has been battling a coalition of moderate and Islamist rebels angered over its abuses of rival fighters and civilians, but Nusra had largely stayed out of the fray. ISIS fighters had regrouped in particular in Jarablus and Manbij, on the far eastern border of Aleppo province and close to Raqqa.The two have never merged, with Golani rejecting a union proposed by ISIS, and Al-Qaeda's Zawahiri urging ISIS to return to Iraq after its fighters moved into Syria.
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