Scores of people have died in fighting between Syrian rebel groups and al Qaeda-linked militants. The intra-rebel conflict has reportedly overshadowed the war against the Syrian regime in some parts of the country.
Syria's anti-regime opposition has increasingly splintered into warring factions, with nearly 500 people killed in a week of clashes between more moderate rebel groups and the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Friday.
When ISIL first began to infiltrate Syria from Iraq, it gave the rebels a military boost against President Bashar al-Assad's better organized forces. But the al Qaeda-linked group has increasingly alienated many Syrians. ISIL has imposed a strict form of Shariah law and beheaded opponents in the areas it controls.
The current spate of rebel infighting erupted last week across northern Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the rebel infighting has claimed 482 lives since January 3. Approximately 157 of the dead were from ISIL, while 240 were from more moderate factions. The remaining 85 deaths were civilians.
Those figures surpass the death toll from the war between the rebels and the Assad regime. The Observatory reports that 385 people died in clashes between government forces and opposition groups from January 3-9.
Meanwhile, Russia and the US are pushing for rebel groups and the Assad regime to sit down for peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland on January 22.
slk/tj (AP, dpa)