Syrian Troops Kill 54 al-Qaeda Fighters in Clashes

Gains Against Nusra, But AQI Seizes a Border Town

The latest reports on the ground in Syria suggest the military has made some gains against al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, with claims of 54 of their fighters being killed in various clashes in Aleppo Province and Metro Damascus.

The biggest such incident came when Nusra fighters attempted to attack a military checkpoint on a Damascus highway, with reports of 23 rebels killed and 60 wounded. Tolls from the Syrian military were not released, and such figures are often hotly disputed by both sides.

The other al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), had a somewhat better day, as reports have them capturing the strategic town of Atama along the Turkish border.

Atama has served as a crossing for weapons and Islamist fighters entering Syria to join the rebellion, and had been under the control of another Islamist faction, but they were chased out of the area by AQI. Control over border towns is often a major source of influence for rebel factions, and a way to get a “cut” of arms being smuggled in by other groups.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.