Most of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has been very busy over the past month and a half, fighting a major “war within a war” against other factions within the rebel-held north, a battle that has been as intense as the civil war itself.
AQI fighters in Latakia didn’t have nearly so much infighting to deal with, and instead focused on attacking civilians around them, sacking three hospitals in the province.
In Rabiaa they arrested rival rebel “guards” in front of the hospital then stormed it outright. Then they hit another hospital just down the road, killing one rebel and abducting another patient. In Biranas they raided a hospital and kidnapped five foreign doctors.
Elsewhere in the area, AQI has been targeting Red Crescent workers and foreign journalists. It is in the context of this spiraling aggression that al-Qaeda itself formally disavowed AQI, and asked the group to stop using their name.
AQI isn’t showing signs of slowing down, and if anything seems to be taking over much of the region from the other rebel groups.