A car bomb likely planted by al Qaeda splinter group the
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed two rival
rebel leaders and five others in eastern Syria, a group that
monitors the violence said.
ISIL, a hardline Islamist group which has seized swathes of
territory in Syria and Iraq, has been fighting rival
insurgents for months to consolidate its grip on Syria's
oil-producing Deir al-Zor province on the border with Iraq.
The infighting has killed more than 600 fighters and driven
tens of thousands from their homes.
A car bomb in the town of al-Shamatiyeh killed seven people
including a judge from the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and a
commander of Ahrar al-Sham, another hardline Islamist group,
late on Monday (local time), the Britain-based Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights said.
Capturing parts of Deir al-Zor would help ISIL link up its
territorial gains across Syria and Iraq, where it overran the
country's second-biggest city of Mosul last week.
ISIL fought with the rival groups as it tried to advance
towards the town of Busayra in the east of Deir al-Zor
province on Monday, the Observatory said.
An ISIL fighter also detonated a suicide vest in an
assassination attempt on the leader of another rebel brigade
in al-Howayij in Deir al-Zor late on Monday, the Observatory
said, saying the leader was wounded and several of his
Rebel infighting and the rise of hardline combatants has
deterred Western states from providing arms to more moderate
opposition fighters and undermined the three-year-old
uprising against Assad which started as a protest movement.
The Observatory said last week that the Syrian branch of ISIL
had put fighting on hold in Syria while it brought in weapons
seized inside neighbouring Iraq.
Its fighters appeared to have held back in Syria last week,
especially in their eastern stronghold near the Iraqi border,
while their Iraqi wing was making rapid military gains.