Ceasefire between warring rebel groups in Syria seen as win for Al Qaida, loss for Saudis

Special to WorldTribune.com

NICOSIA — The Saudi-sponsored campaign against Al Qaida in Syria faces collapse.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has signed a ceasefire agreement with a major rebel group sponsored by Saudi Arabia.

Suqr Al Sham leader Ahmed Issa al-Sheikh
Suqr Al Sham leader Ahmed Issa Al-Sheikh

The ceasefire with the Suqr Al Sham could remove a major militia from participating in the Saudi-sponsored war against ISIL in northern Syria.

“We have been able to reach a comprehensive agreement that is valid all over Syria to stop the spilling of blood and end the fighting between us and our brothers in the ISIS,” Suqr military chief Rashed Tuggo said.

The ceasefire was announced on Feb. 6 and marked the first formal withdrawal of a major militia from the Saudi-sponsored Islamic Front.

For about a month, the front, amid heavy casualties, has been battling ISIL throughout two provinces in northern Syria. In November 2013, Suqr, one of the best equipped rebel militias, was formed from units of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army.

“Neither party will attack the other in any way,” ISIL and Suqr said in
a joint statement. “Also, after this agreement, neither party will assist
any third party in the Levant in any way.”

Islamic sources said the ceasefire was signed after ISIL incurred heavy
casualties in Suqr and other Saudi-sponsored militias. About 2,500 people,
most of them from the Islamic Front, have been killed as ISIL succeeded in
recapturing most of the positions its surrendered in the first week of the
rebel campaign in early January.

It was not clear whether the ceasefire was approved by the Suqr
leadership. Suqr commander Issa Al-Sheik had pledged to continue the
offensive until ISIL was expelled from Syria.

Hours after the announcement, Suqr appeared to move away from the
agreement. A Suqr spokesman said the agreement was signed by field
commanders, who had failed to inform the leadership.

“It is no secret that this [ceasefire] cannot be implemented under any
circumstances,” the Suqr spokesman said.

For its part, the Islamic Front has announced a new drive against the
regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad around the northern city of Aleppo.
The offensive was announced on Feb. 6 and included Al Qaida’s Nusra Front
for the Defense of the Levant.

“All military forces in their bases should head to the front lines,” a
joint statement said. “Otherwise they will be questioned and held

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