On Friday, fighting broke out between two large factions of Islamist rebels near Damascus, with the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam fighting against both Turkey-backed Faylaq al-Rahman and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. About 40 were killed the first day, and fighting has continued to rage into the weekend.
These two sides, who have had considerable territory around Damascus, have fought one another before, though a ceasefire agreed to in May of 2016 held almost entirely until now, aiming to prevent the Syrian military taking advantage of the two sides’ clashes to reclaim lost territory.
That’s happening again over the weekend, with reports that the Syrian military is starting to advance toward Qabun, which is the area around which the fighting has been taking place. So far, they haven’t joined the fighting, but will clearly look to exploit any defensive openings.
In the meantime, the fighting continues to be rebel-on-rebel, with reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the fighting between the two sides has also led to an unspecified number of civilian deaths. While Qatar managed to get the two sides to talk last time, this time there appears to be little appetite for negotiation.