At least 31 killed in fight between rival groups in Syria


At least 31 people, including civilians, have been killed in ongoing clashes between an al-Qaida-linked group and rival Syrian rebels in the north of the war-torn country, a war monitor reported on Wednesday.

The fighting broke out on Tuesday in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, pitting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Syria's al-Qaida branch previously known as the al-Nusra Front, against the Turkish-backed rebel group the National Liberation Front (NLF), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added.

During the fight, the HTC combatants seized from NLF the town of Daret al-Iza, the second largest in the western countryside of Aleppo, according to the Britain-based watchdog.

The battles resulted in the killing of at least 14 HTC members, 12 from the NLF as well as five civilians, including two children, the observatory said.

Local activists said the al-Qaida affiliate had taken advantage of the departure of many NLF personnel from the area for the embattled town of Manbij in northern Syria, where Turkey is preparing for a major offensive against Kurdish militias there.

Turkey has been sending troops and military hardware to areas near the Syrian–Turkish border for the operation.

Ankara deems Syrian Kurdish militiamen as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) waging an insurgency within Turkey. (dpa)

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