‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Battle Each Other North of Aleppo

Fighters Shifted From Anti-ISIS Push to Fight One Another

Any claim of cohesion within the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria, is clearly falling apart today, as two factions, both of them flying FSA flags, fought one another in a pitched battle over the city of Azaz, north of Aleppo.

Both of the FSA factions involved as Turkish-backed groups, with the Levant Front FSA fighters clashing with the Ahrar al-Sham FSA forces in Azaz, a valuable border crossing into neighboring Turkey. Ahrar al-Sham forces reported seized several checkpoints in the fighting.

Indeed, the Levant Front was losing so much ground that according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights they had to withdraw a number of their fighters from an anti-ISIS offensive in nearby al-Bab, to bring them back to Azaz to fight the other FSA forces.

Fighting amongst rebel factions in Syria is nothing new, of course, but to see two groups both flying the FSA banner, both taking part in Turkey’s anti-ISIS push, and both taking time out of their busy schedule to fight one another is extremely irregular.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.