Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is quickly recovering the most important of its lost territorial possessions in northern Syria, and after days of bloody fighting is back in full control of the provincial capital of Raqqa.
Raqqa is the jewel of AQI’s territory, and the militants have set up their own state in the province. Other rebels briefly took control of parts of the capital but after days of fighting and mass executions they have it again.
The overall death toll of the fighting is unclear, but where AQI has captured rivals they’ve executed them by the hundreds, and the tolls are believed to be considerable.
Fighting between rebel factions seems far from over, but the loss of Raqqa back to AQI suggests that their opponents have lost whatever momentum they once had, and al-Qaeda is on their way to dominating the rebellion once more.