Damascus: A local al Qaeda commander was killed on Thursday in northern Syria in ongoing clashes with Kurdish militiamen, the second to die in a week of infighting between extremist and moderate rebel factions.
UN experts resumed their probe into the use of chemical weapons in Syria`s civil war, but the rebel-against-rebel violence may further complicate their work on the ground.
The intensifying power struggle between disparate factions fighting to topple President Bashar Assad is threatening to further encumber a rebellion plagued by divisions and outgunned by the regime.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al Qaeda offshoot consisting mostly of foreign fighters, has sought to expand its influence in opposition held territories, employing brutal tactics and trying to impose Islamic law.
That has created a backlash against the group from more moderate factions concerned that extremists are discrediting their rebellion.
Highlighting the militants` growing muscle, activists said members of the ISIL broke the crosses off two churches and burned the contents of another in the northeastern city of Raqqa, hoisting in their place their group`s black Islamic banner.
The action triggered a protest by residents of Raqqa, which fell into rebel hands last year and has since been controlled mostly by extremist factions, according to a resident of the city who identified himself only by his first name, Amir, for fear of reprisals.