FSA official: Qaeda group ISIL backed by Assad, Iran, Iraq

Captain Ammar al-Wawi describes ISIL as “a group of gangsters” trying to hijack the “Syrian revolution”

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A high-ranking Syrian rebel army official told Al Arabiya News Channel Saturday that the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is “a group of gangsters following” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Iran and Iraq.

The Secretary General of the Free Syrian Army, Captain Ammar al-Wawi, said the sole aim of ISIL is to “hijack the Syrian revolution,” which began after protests against Syrian President al-Assad in March 2011 transformed into a civil war.

Speaking from the Syrian-Turkish borders via Skype, Captain al-Wawi said ISIL “deliberately committed atrocities on Syrian soil, including killing and kidnapping many members of different groups and religious sects in Syria.”

ISIL has been blamed for brutal killings in areas under its control, turning many local residents against them.

The rebel commander showed a picture of a man named Mohammad Mustapha Faham, who appeared as a bearded ISIL fighter, but was supposedly a Syrian regime intelligence officer.

Another person he presented was Mohammad Bassem Yasseen, also known as Abu al-Baraa al-Samaraei, who entered Syria as an ISIL fighter, but targeted activists serving the “Syrian revolution.”

The captain described the majority of ISIL fighters as attempting to kill and arrest both activists and rebels.

He added that ISIL surrounded a hospital in Jisr al-Shaghour city in Idlib province on Friday and killed a doctor that goes by the name Abu Rayan.

He also said the al-Qaeda group has arrested some of the demonstration organizers in other regions.

On Saturday, Syrian rebels battled ISIL fighters across the north-west of the country, Reuters reported.

The apparently coordinated strikes against the ISIL come after months of increasing resentment of the powerful al-Qaeda-linked group, whose radical foreign jihadists alienated many ordinary Syrians in the rebel-held territory.

Activists said dozens of fighters were killed in the clashes between rival rebel groups which have raged in Aleppo and Idlib provinces since Friday.

Activists also said that Islamic rebels fighting in Syria have given ISIL 24 hours to surrender.

Ahmad al-Khatib, an activist in the Jabal al-Zawiya region in northwestern Idlib, said Islamic rebels have given ISIL members an ultimatum to surrender by Saturday afternoon.

(With Reuters and AP)

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