Rebel groups, al-Qaida affiliate in standoff over strategic town, Azaz

Oct. 4, 2013 at 9:13 AM
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AZAZ, Syria, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Rebel brigades in Syria said they are in the midst of an armed standoff with an al-Qaida affiliate group over control of a town near the Turkish border.

The town of Azaz has been used as a crossing to supply rebels, The New York Times said, but Turkey has kept the crossing closed since Sept. 19 for security concerns.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, al-Qaida affiliated group that seeks to erase Syria's borders, took control of Azaz two weeks ago.

ISIS has since set up checkpoints around the town and taken over other rebel groups' camps.

Rebel brigades, whose main goal is to topple President Bashar Assad, oppose the ISIS members' mission.

They have gathered at another border crossing a few miles away and hope to protect it if ISIS forces advance, the Times reported.

Six rebel brigades issued a statement Wednesday asking for a cease-fire and a discussion about the problem.

It was not clear whether ISIS would agree, the Times said.

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