Syrian Islamist Rebels Fight One Another Near Damascus, 40 Killed

Turkey-Backed Rebels Fight Saudi-Backed Factions

As the Syrian Civil War drags on and more and more distinct factions get involved, rebels are increasingly finding themselves fighting rival rebel blocs,, with less time to spare to fight the Syrian government itself. That was true again today in Qabun, just east of the capital of Damascus.

This time, the rebel-on-rebel fighting pitting the Saudi-backed Islamist faction Jaish al-Islam against a coalition of rivals including both al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Faylaq al-Rahman, another Islamist faction, this time backed by Turkey and Qatar. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 40 fighters killed and 70 wounded in the clashes.

As usual, both sides blamed the other for starting the fight, with the Saudi-backed faction claiming they were sending reinforcement to their front with the Syrian military at Qabun but they kept getting attacked by other rebels along the way. The Faylaq al-Rahman insisted the other side fired first.

Turkey-backed rebels have generally worked closely with al-Qaeda forces in the nation’s north, and while Turkey has denied any direct ties, this has fueled accusations that al-Qaeda themselves amount to a Turkish-backed rebel faction.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for 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.