Friday's fighting in Syria: government offensive in Aleppo, ISIS agrees to leave town in Idlib

McClatchy Foreign StaffJanuary 24, 2014 

For the first time in a week, the sky over Aleppo was clear and with the clouds gone, Friday was ideal for government helicopters to come.

More than 20 barrel bombs were dropped over the city, especially on the eastern suburbs of Muyassar and Kadi Askar. More than 10 civilians were killed, anti-government activists reported, and dozens of cars were burned and many houses destroyed.

Elsewhere in the city, government forces launched attacks that appeared to be aimed at securing ground near the Aleppo airport, according to activist Mumtaz Abu Muhamed from the Aleppo Media Center told McClatchy. The attacks focused on Aziza south of the city and on the Tareek Albab district in the city's north.

One activist, Saif Alhalabi, said the infighting between moderate rebels and the al Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria had made it possible for government forces to attack since the moderate rebels have been busy defending civilians against ISIS attacks.

In Idlib province to the west, ISIS took control of the town of Darkoush, then withdrew to its bases at Aljamiliah and Deir Samman in the nearby mountains, according to rebel Gen. Hussaien Alwan. The withdrawal was negotiated by the rebel military council in Jisr al Shugour and the Nusra Front, another al Qaida affiliate. The two groups now occupy Darkoush, Alwan said.

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