Activists: About 500 killed in Syria rebel clashes

Free Syrian Army officials reiterate accusations that al-Qaeda-linked group ISIL is pro-Assad

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Nearly 500 people, among them 85 civilians, have been killed in a week of fierce fighting between Syrian rebels al-Qaeda mili Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a monitoring group said Friday.

“We have documented the killing of 482 people in the fighting - 85 civilians, 240 members of the rebel brigades and 157 members of ISIL,” Agence France-Presse quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director, Rami Abdel Rahman, as saying.

The Observatory’s death toll comes after the Free Syrian Army (FSA) officials described ISIL fighters as proving their pro-Syrian regime agendas by foiling the rebel army’s attempts to score successes on the ground, Al Arabiya News Channel reported Friday.

The officials said that on more than one occasion, ISIL fighters had attacked rebel units fighting to gain control over areas held by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

The officials said ISIL militants helped Assad’s forces target FSA fighters.

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

But after a series of events, it was more evident to the FSA that ISIL is a backer of Assad’s forces, the officials said.

Their suspicions were aroused when some activists kidnapped by ISIL ended up in Syrian government prisons, said the officials.

British doctor Abbas Khan, who was kidnapped in the northwestern province of Aleppo by ISIL, died in a government jail with his body bearing signs of torture.

This is not the first time the FSA has sounded the alarm over ISIL’s alleged links with the Syrian government.

In early January, a high-ranking Syrian rebel army official told Al Arabiya News Channel that ISIL is “a group of gangsters following” not only the Syrian’s regime, but 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 Assad in March 2011.

Wawi also showed a picture of a man named Mohammad Mustapha Faham, who was photographed as a bearded ISIL fighter, but was allegedly a Syrian regime intelligence officer.

Also on Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the Syrian regime and ISIL as “backstage partners.”

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