|Al-Nusra Front sets deadline to end militants’ infighting in Syria||
The leader of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front terrorist group, Abu Mohammad al-Golani, has threatened to escalate the war against radical militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if they don’t stop fighting other groups in five days, according to media reports.
Al-Golani called on the ISIL group to agree to arbitration by their religious scholars to end more than a year of feuding which has turned violent in some areas in Syria, Reuters reported.
Heavy clashes between the two groups and other extremist fighters in militant-held northern and eastern Syria have led to hundreds of deaths and have undermined the wider military campaign against the Syrian national army.
"We will wait for five days from the date of this recording for your formal reply," Golani said in the audio tape, released on a web site affiliated with his group.
"By God, if you reject God's ruling again and do not put an end to your plague against the Umma, then the Umma will launch an assault against this ignorant ideology and will terminate it, even from Iraq," he said.
The fighting broke out at the start of the year when several militant groups launched what appeared to be coordinated attacks on ISIL fighters, who have alienated many Syrians in the areas under their control.
Golani's Nusra Front, which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, had until then avoided openly confronting ISIL, with which it shares a radical ideology, despite deep rivalry and tensions between the two groups.
Al-Qaeda has dissociated itself from ISIL.
In his statement, Golani differentiated between ISIL and the Western-backed Syrian opposition, both of which he described as infidel groups.
Syrian troops, rebels battle for key Aleppo district
Meanwhile, Syrian troops battled rebels Monday over a strategic Aleppo district that could be key to securing a nearby prison and laying siege to the city's rebel-held east.
The Al-Watan daily, which is close to the government, said troops had advanced in the Sheikh Najjar district of Syria's second city and onetime economic hub.
"The army has achieved new progress in Sheikh Najjar industrial city... during its military operation to cleanse the vicinity of the Aleppo central prison and lift the siege on it," the newspaper said.
The prison has been attacked multiple times by rebels hoping to free the approximately 3,500 detainees inside, who are reportedly being held in dire conditions
Army clears strategic area in Yabruk of militants
In another development, reports indicate that Syrian troops have cleared militants from a strategic area in the city of Yabrud of the Rif Dimashq governorate, Al-Alam reported.
The militants were using the western area to transfer weapons from Lebanon to Syria.
The Syrian army continued its offensive against foreign-backed militants in other areas across the country, killing dozens of them in fresh clashes.
Syrian army units managed to repel an attack against a number of villages in the Homs countryside.
The government troops also killed several militants and destroyed their vehicles and ammunition in the fighting in the western province.
During similar skirmishes in Hama, the army units killed all members of a terrorist group who were attempting to attack a military checkpoint in Morik town of the province.
The development comes a day after an unnamed Saudi source, who is close to decision-makers in the country, said that Saudi Arabia is in talks with Pakistan to provide the foreign-backed militants in Syria with anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets.
The source further said that Jordan is set to provide facilities to store the arms before they are delivered to the militants within Syria.
Ahmad Jarba, the head of the so-called Syrian National Coalition (SNC), said last week during a visit to northern Syria that "powerful arms will be arriving soon."
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Over 130,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced due to the unrest.
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