Weekend fighting in Aleppo Province left no doubt about the “declaration of war” by the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) against a faction of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which it blamed for assassinating one of its leaders.
But where does that leave the Syrian Civil War? The move seems to have pleased US officials, who weren’t comfortable with the FSA’s fighting alongside al-Qaeda, but without them, their effectiveness is questionable at best.
It’s not even the FSA cutting al-Qaeda loose, but getting into direct conflicts with them, and in some places, the fighting is going to be rebel vs. rebel with the Assad government eagerly waiting to pick up the pieces.
In the interim the FSA seems to be holding out hope to sideline al-Qaeda by calling on Sharia courts to rule on the assassination, and order the assassin handed over. That seems extremely unlikely, and is likely to just further the divide between secular and Islamist fighters.
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