|ISIL’s Aleppo HQ falls to rival Syrian militants||
Militants from several Syrian rebel brigades seized the headquarters of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the main northern city of Aleppo, opposition activists say, according to media reports on Wednesday.
"Fighters from several Islamist rebel brigades took control of the children's hospital in the Qadi Askar district, which is the headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the city," the So-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Observatory said it was unclear what had happened to "hundreds" of ISIL fighters who had been inside the headquarters.
The rebels freed dozens of people who were being held prisoner in the ISIL headquarters, it added, citing initial reports.
ISIL has been fighting a coalition of rival rebels angered by a spate of abuses by the terrorists, who have been accused of kidnapping and killing civilians and rival rebels.
Late Tuesday, an ISIL spokesman said the group would "crush" opposition fighters and warned that it considered members of the opposition National Coalition and the military command of the so-called Free Syrian Army to be "legitimate targets."
Syria urged to speed up chemical handover
Meanwhile, the world's chemical weapons watchdog, which is overseeing the destruction of Syria's toxic arsenal, called on the government of President Bashar al-Assad to pick up momentum in handing over the remaining chemicals.
"We are exhorting the Syrian government to intensify its efforts, so we can conclude the critical part of this mission absolutely as fast as the conditions allow," Michael Luhan, spokesman for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
"We are happy to see there is finally movement. We hope to see that that movement continues regularly now through the next few weeks, so we can get these chemicals out of the country as quickly as possible."
Syria missed a deadline to transport the most toxic substances out of the country by December 31, loading a first batch of chemicals onto a Danish cargo vessel on Tuesday, a week late.
The Syrian government has until the end of March to hand over the so-called first priority chemicals, including around 20 tons (1 ton= 1.102 metric tons) of lethal mustard gas, and to the end of June to completely eliminate its chemical weapons program.
Syria declared 1,300 tons of chemical weapons to the OPCW and is transporting them by road to the port of Latakia so they can be destroyed abroad.
Chemical weapons were likely used in five out of seven attacks investigated by UNexperts in Syria, where a nearly three-year-old year civil war has killed more than 100,000 people, a U.N. investigation found.
The most serious attack was on August 21, when hundreds of people died in a sarin gas strike in the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.
That attack prompted the United States to threaten to use military force against Assad's government, which it said was likely responsible.
The bulk of the chemicals will be processed on the Cape Ray, a 200-meter (650-foot) U.S. cargo ship, which is being fitted with a portable hydrolysis system to neutralize around 560 tons of the most deadly toxins.
The remainder will go to commercial toxic waste processing plants, including one in England.
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