|Infighting among Syria rebels continue near Turkey||
Syrian rebels and al Qaeda-linked fighters battled near the border with Turkey on Wednesday, activists said, in an outbreak of violence that exposes serious divisions between factions fighting Syrian government, Reuters reported.
The al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took control of the border town of Azaz last month, kicking out rival rebels and prompting Turkey to shut its border crossing about 5 km (3 miles) away.
ISIL, which wants to merge Syria into a larger state ruled by Islamic law, has maintained control of the town since then and clashes have periodically erupted between them and fighters of the Northern Storm brigade they expelled to its outskirts.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of sources across the country, said heavy clashes had resumed on Wednesday between the two groups.
It said there were reports ISIL fighters were advancing toward Northern Storm bases and checkpoints near the crossing into Turkey and in villages in the outskirts of Azaz.
An activist in the area confirmed fighting had started, but did not have details.
The Syrian rebels have been undermined by infighting, partially over conflicting ideology, but more often over territory, spoils of war and control of resources and smuggling.
ISIL, which is also present in neighboring Iraq, comprises a larger number of foreign fighters than other hardline Islamist brigades fighting in Syria.
Disarmament team begins mission
Meanwhile, a team of international disarmament experts tasked with destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal has started its work.
On Wednesday, the international inspectors left their hotel in Damascus to begin their work, Press TV reported.
The team of 19 inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and 14 UN staffers arrived in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Tuesday to implement a UN resolution that calls for the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons.
According to a statement released by the UN, “In the coming days, their efforts are expected to focus on verifying information provided by the Syrian authorities and the initial planning phase of helping the country destroy its chemical weapons production facilities.”
“According to the OPCW-UN Security Council deadline, the entire chemical weapons stockpile must be eliminated in the first half of next year,” said the statement.
On September 14, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal under which Syria must account for its chemical weapons stockpiles within a week and see them eliminated by the middle of 2014. Syria has agreed to the deal.
Under the US-Russian deal, the OPCW team should finish the work by November. Some arsenals will be eliminated safely and destroyed outside Syria, while others will be destroyed inside the country.
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