Middle East

Jihadist rivals fight in east, leave 63 dead

File - This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/militant website)

BEIRUT: Fighting between rival jihadist groups in eastern Syria killed 63 people Monday, despite a call from Al-Qaeda’s chief for a cease-fire, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The clashes between Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) have prompted 60,000 people to flee towns in the province.

The Observatory, a group of activists, said 58 fighters on both sides had been killed in the clashes Monday, along with five civilians.

The deaths bring to 150 the toll since the latest confrontation between the groups erupted last week in Deir al-Zor, bordering Iraq.

It comes after Islamist and moderate rebels eventually joined by Nusra launched an offensive against ISIS in early January. The fighting has killed around 4,000 people, according to the Observatory.

In an audio recording released Friday, Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahri urged Nusra to stop fighting ISIS and focus on battling the Syrian regime. In a response, Nusra said it would stop fighting ISIS if the group ended its attacks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 06, 2014, on page 8.




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