Al-Qaeda, Free Syrian Army Stop Fighting in Azaz


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The BBC reported this morning that fighting between some of the rebel groups has come to a grinding halt in the town of Azaz.

Militants linked to al-Qaeda and fighting under the banner of "The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) attacked the town earlier this week, wresting the town from Free Syrian Rebels backed by the western world.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, is continuing to try diplomatic mediation between the clashing factions in Damascus. Russian and U.S. officials have completely different opinions regarding the handling of chemical weapons evidence; where John Kerry is convinced by a UN report that the Syrian government forces backed by Assad are responsible for the weapons, Moscow is backing Damascus when it claims that Syrian rebels were responsible.

The US has insisted on an addition to a UN resolution that would threaten military force in the event the Syrian government refused to comply with demands to turn over the weapons, but Russia objects to the mention of it, let alone adding it to the resolution.

Paul Wood, the BBC's foreign reporter on the Turkey-Syria border, said of the Azaz truce that "In the short term, if the rebels are fighting each other, they are not fighting the regime. But in the long term, the US and other Western governments might be more willing to support the FSA if they see real distance between it and the jihadis."

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported yesterday that Bashar al-Assad's government will be seeking a ceasefire in Geneva regarding the future of his state's existence.

Qadri Jamil, Syria's deputy prime minister, told the Guardian in an interview that "Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side... This zero balance of forces will not change for a while." He added that over 100,000 have perished in the fighting, and that the Syrian economy had lost $100 billion due to loss of production during wartime.

Syrian rebels are hardly interested in any kind of ceasefire or truce that does not involve dethroning Assad, as evidenced by their repeated refusal to go to peace talks in Geneva unless Assad resigns first.

If you want to see an interview about the civil war with some Syrian Christians who were interviewed by the AFP, you can watch this video:

[Image via this YouTube footage of Syrian rebels fighting, posted this month]