Damascus, Syria– Amid disputes in the ranks of Syria rebels, battalions of the Islamists-led Military Council in Deir ez-Zor city in eastern Syria installed a number of checkpoints on the road leading to the military airport of Deir ez-Zor last week, and engaged in clashes with members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) −who besieged the airport earlier this month.
A member of the FSA in Deir ez-Zor told ARA News that the checkpoints installed by battalions of the Military Council pose a huge threat to the FSA fighters as these checkpoints prevent the passage of FSA fighters from and to the front lines, leading to clashes between them.
“Due to the continuous clashes between FSA fighters and these battalions (of the Islamists-led Military Council) for over a month, they (MC battalions) were forced to retreat from the city’s military airport. However, they recently returned to install checkpoints on the road leading to airport,” the source said.
According to the FSA member who talked to ARA News on the phone, the Military Council intends to put pressure on the FSA fighters and weaken their military infrastructure which would force them to retreat and give up their weapons, “in order to pave the way for the regime forces to advance and control the FSA-held areas”.
Abo al-Fida al-Deiri, an FSA leader, told ARA News: “These battalions of the Military Council were formed since nearly one year and were fighting side by side with the FSA, but during the last period in which it became difficult to move between the city of Deir ez-Zor and its countryside due to intensive sorties by the regime’s warplanes and helicopters, and their continuous bombardment by dropping explosive barrels on the villages and roads leading to the battle areas, they (MC battalions) began to change their ‘revolutionary duties’ which were supposed to help liberate Deir ez-Zor from the oppression of regime forces instead of fighting against the FSA rebels.”
“Battalions loyal to the Military Council turned against the FSA and started installation of military checkpoints to block the way in the face of the FSA fighters and engage in clashes with them, which clearly shows these (MC) battalions as mere mercenary groups mobilized by the Assad regime to split the unity of the rebel groups and spread chaos, which may lead to the destruction of the unity of the revolutionary forces,” al-Deiri said. “Moreover, they (MC battalions) aim at forcing the residents of Deir ez-Zor city and the areas near the military airport to accept the national conciliation which the regime and its allies allege.”
Meanwhile, the al-Qaeda splinter group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) together with a group of allied Islamic divisions have withdrawn from some strategic points in Deir ez-Zor province and handed these areas over to the regime forces without any resistance.
Local activists in Deir ez-Zor city told ARA News that the regime forces together with collaborating militias rally its troops to head to the southern areas of Hasaka city, to the front of Margada and Shadadi cities and the oil-rich al-Jibsa area.
These developments coincided with the intensification of the battles between FSA fighters and a number of Islamic battalions on one side and regime forces on the other around the military airport of Deir ez-Zor, while the fighting continue between the Qaeda splinter group of the ISIL on one side and Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front on the other in the southern countryside of Hasaka city and the western suburb of Deir ez-Zor in areas of al-Batni and Manjam al-Milih.
Reporting by: Adam Salih
Source: ARA News
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