Fighters from the Nusra Front march toward the northern village of Al-Iss in Aleppo province.
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Al-Qaeda's branch in Syria has recruited thousands of fighters, including teenagers, and taken territory from government forces in a successful offensive in the north, illustrating how the cease-fire put in place by Russia and the U.S. to weaken the militants has in many ways backfired.Since March, the group recruited 3,000 new fighters, including teenagers, in comparison to an average of 200 to 300 a month before, according to Rami Abdel-Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group monitoring the conflict. He cited contacts within the Nusra Front. The Nusra Front has long been one of the strongest factions in Syria's opposition.Because of the Nusra Front, Syria has become a critical hub for Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda's central leadership, believed based in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, has been sending prominent figures to aid the fight in Syria.The alliances that Al-Qaeda has built with other Syrian rebel factions have been key to its success.As a result, Daesh has battled Syrian rebel factions – and the Nusra Front – more than it has battled Assad's forces.The stream of Al-Qaeda veterans joining the Nusra Front helps Golani – though it also exposes them to the dangers of the Syria conflict.
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