Senior Correspondent, Syria
Khaled's Feed
Jan 15, 2014

Saudi-Qatar rivalry divides Syrian opposition

AMMAN (Reuters) – Rivalry between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has fuelled wrangling within the Syrian opposition that threatens to prevent a united rebel delegation attending international peace talks next week.

Sources in the Syrian National Coalition and diplomats from foreign powers backing the rebels said it remains unclear whether those divisions can be overcome by Friday, when the 120-member Coalition is expected to vote on whether to take part in the conference in Switzerland known as Geneva-2.

Jan 13, 2014

Al Qaeda Syria unit executes dozens of rivals in Raqqa: activists

AMMAN (Reuters) – The al Qaeda-linked Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant executed dozens of rival Islamists over the last two days as the group recaptured most territory it had lost in the northeastern Syrian province of Raqqa, activists said on Sunday.

One of the activists, who spoke from the province on condition of anonymity, said up to 100 fighters from the Nusra Front, another al Qaeda affiliate, and the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, captured by ISIL in the town of Tel Abyad on the border with Turkey, the nearby area of Qantari and the provincial capital city of Raqqa, were shot dead.

Jan 12, 2014

Group linked to al Qaeda regains ground in northeast Syria

AMMAN (Reuters) – A group linked to al Qaeda recaptured much of its stronghold in the northeast Syrian city of Raqqa on Sunday, activists said, dealing a blow to rival rebel groups backed by Gulf Arab and Western states.

Fighting between the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and rival Islamists and more moderate rebels have killed hundreds of people over the last 10 days and shaken the hardline militant group led by foreign jihadists.

Jan 6, 2014

Syria Islamists fight al Qaeda allies in Raqqa

AMMAN (Reuters) – Rival Islamist rebel groups fought in the Syrian city of Raqqa on Monday, residents said, as local fighters tried to drive out a foreign-led al Qaeda affiliate which has also seized towns across the border in Iraq.

Activists opposed to President Bashar al-Assad said dozens of Syrian members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had changed sides to join other Sunni Islamist factions which have taken advantage of a local backlash against the ISIL and the foreign al Qaeda jihadists prominent among its commanders.

Jan 5, 2014

Syria rebels push al Qaeda back; U.S. open to Iran role

AMMAN/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Syrian rebel fighters loyal to al Qaeda ceded ground near the Turkish border to rival Islamists on Sunday, activists said, in what seemed to be a tactical withdrawal to end clashes between Syrian- and foreign-led opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

As Syria’s civil war gets ever more complex amid a broad regional confrontation between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, the United States raised the prospect of Assad’s sponsor Iran, the Shi’ite power long at odds with Washington and its Sunni Arab allies, playing some role in this month’s Syrian peace talks.

Dec 18, 2013

West signals to Syrian opposition Assad may stay

AMMAN (Reuters) – Western nations have indicated to the Syrian opposition that peace talks next month may not lead to the removal of President Bashar al-Assad and that his Alawite minority will remain key in any transitional administration, opposition sources said.

The message, delivered to senior members of the Syrian National Coalition at a meeting of the anti-Assad Friends of Syria alliance in London last week, was prompted by rise of al Qaeda and other militant groups, and their takeover of a border crossing and arms depots near Turkey belonging to the moderate Free Syrian Army, the sources told Reuters.

Dec 17, 2013

Exclusive: West signals to Syrian opposition Assad may stay

AMMAN (Reuters) – Western nations have indicated to the Syrian opposition that peace talks next month may not lead to the removal of President Bashar al-Assad and that his Alawite minority will remain key in any transitional administration, opposition sources said.

The message, delivered to senior members of the Syrian National Coalition at a meeting of the anti-Assad Friends of Syria alliance in London last week, was prompted by rise of al Qaeda and other militant groups, and their takeover of a border crossing and arms depots near Turkey belonging to the moderate Free Syrian Army, the sources told Reuters.

Dec 5, 2013

Insight: Beheadings and spies help al Qaeda gain ground in Syria

AMMAN (Reuters) – Armed with machine guns, black-clad al Qaeda fighters drove their pick-ups calmly into the northern Syrian town and took over its imposing agriculture ministry building.

They beheaded a sniper from a rival rebel unit, displayed his head in the main square and put roadblocks on major routes.

Dec 5, 2013

Beheadings and spies help al Qaeda gain ground in Syria

AMMAN, Dec 5 (Reuters) – Armed with machine guns, black-clad
al Qaeda fighters drove their pick-ups calmly into the northern
Syrian town and took over its imposing agriculture ministry
building.

They beheaded a sniper from a rival rebel unit, displayed
his head in the main square and put roadblocks on major routes.

Nov 22, 2013

Syria Islamists unite as faction-fighting goes on

AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamist fighters in Syria have joined forces to form what may be the biggest rebel army in the country, further undermining Western-backed military commanders and potentially challenging al Qaeda.

The announcement on Friday of a common leadership for the Islamic Front, an amalgam of six major Islamist groups which had earlier declared an intention to merge, coincided with accounts of a battle on the Turkish border between rival Islamists that ended with al Qaeda allies taking control of the town of Atma.