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Syria rebels urge Arab support against ISIL jihadists

AFP , Wednesday 11 Jun 2014
Free Syrian Army fighters running at one of the front lines in the town of Sheikh Najjar, in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday June 10, 2014 (Photo: AP)
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Syrian rebels backed by the international community called Wednesday for help to fight the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the east of the war-ravaged country.

The Free Syrian Army's appeal came a day after ISIL spearheaded a jihadist Sunni offensive in neighbouring Iraq that claimed the country's second-biggest city Mosul and a swathe of other northern territory.

"The Supreme Military Council calls on all friendly and brotherly Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and Jordan, to give aid to the brigades on the ground in Deir Ezzor province so they can confront the terrorist ISIL organisation," the FSA said in a statement.

ISIL, which emerged in the Syrian conflict in 2013, grew from Al-Qaeda's Iraq affiliate, though it has since split with the global terror network and faced criticism from its head Ayman al-Zawahiri.

It aims to establish an Islamic state straddling Syria and Iraq, but has faced a major backlash from rebels and Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, Al-Nusra Front.

The backlash has all but forced the group from Idlib and Aleppo province, but it has entrenched itself in Raqa and the eastern province of Deir Ezzor -- the scene of fierce clashes in recent weeks.

The fighting in the oil-rich province has killed more than 630 people in just 40 days and displaced more than 130,000 civilians, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

ISIL was initially welcomed by some in the armed opposition when it entered the conflict but its quest for hegemony and systematic abuses against civilians and rival rebels have sparked anger.

Moderate and Islamist rebels and Al-Nusra Front have been battling ISIL since early January, in fighting that has killed more than 6,000 people.

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