DAMASCUS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- As internal rifle deepens among Syria's armed rebels, Damascus gets a triumph card to play at the Geneva II conference slated to begin in about two weeks on the Syrian crisis.
For three consecutive days, battles have been flaring between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and some other Islamist groups in northern Syria, killing tens of the rebels, including the second man in ISIL in the countryside of restive Aleppo.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 24 were killed during attacks staged by ISIL as part of the rebel infighting, which broke out on Friday and has reached the northern city of Raqqa.
In parallel, activists said that ISIL gunmen pulled out of the towns of Dana and Otma near the Turkish border after coming under heavy fire by other Islamist groups amid reports that al-Nusra Front and the Ahrar al-Sham Movement overran the ISIL sites in the two towns.
The ISIL is facing a real war by several battalions and Islamist factions affiliated with the Syrian Free Army (FSA). The group has threatened to quit its positions on the battle fronts against the government troops and warned to hand over those sites to them.
The infighting has apparently pleased the Syrian government and strengthened its position ahead of the Geneva conference, as the government has repeatedly announced that the main topic at the conference will be how to combat terrorism.
The pro-government al-Watan newspaper published on Sunday an article that focused on inter-fighting among extremist groups battling the Syrian army under the title "Terrorism eats its sons. "
The paper said that differences exacerbated between those groups on assigning control over the northern areas and the West's supplies of arms and funds.
It said that several opposition groups claimed that the ISIL is the Syrian government's puppet and should be eradicated, adding that some groups support the battle against the ISIL to show that they are "moderate" ahead of the Geneva conference.
It added that each fighting between the insurgents serves the Syrian government's interests and helps boost its role in coordinating with the West to combat terrorism.
The moderate domestically-based National Coordination Body for Democratic Change revealed on Sunday that India and Russia have advised it to open channels of negotiations with the government before the advent of the Geneva conference, which will likely focus on fighting terrorism.
The body's media chief, Monzer Khaddam, expressed concerns that the conference will not work on a democratic change in Syria; rather, the war against terrorism will take the bulk of its attention and will drag on for many years to come.
Around 30 nations are going to attend the Jan.-22 conference in the city of Montreux, Switzerland and the actual negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition are scheduled to start two days later in Geneva.
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Monday is sending invitations for the Geneva II conference, calling it "a unique opportunity for ending the violence" in Syria.
According to a statement issued here by Ban's spokesperson, the Geneva II conference aims to bring two "broadly representative and credible" delegations of the Syrian government and opposition to a negotiating table in order to end the conflict and launch a political transition process through the full implementation of the Geneva Communique of June 30, 2012. The list of invitees was determined on Dec. 20 at a trilateral meeting held among the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Nations. Full story
DAMASCUS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian troops on Monday killed 27 rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib, as part of a series of "precise" operations by the army against rebel positions in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, the state-run SANA news agency reported.
Arab fighters, including Qatari, Saudi, and Tunisians, were among those killed in the town of Binnish in Idlib, said SANA, adding that Chechens were also among the killed rebels. Full story