Syrian rebels vow retaliation against regime as fighting escalates

Several major Syrian rebel factions vowed Monday to retaliate against government forces for alleged violations of the cessation of hostilities, in a further sign that the war-torn country's ceasefire is teetering.

Rebel troops attacked government positions in the Latakia province in the north and in the outskirts of Hama in Syria's central region, according to the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman.

The latest clashes are a sign of how tensions have been building up, on the heels of recent skirmishes and clashes.

"We announce the formation of a joint [military] operations room and the start of the battle called 'Response to Grievances'," a statement from 10 rebel factions said.

Among the groups were Islamist factions Army of Islam and Ahrar al Sham, two of the most powerful rebel forces in the country.

The opposition accuses the government of using the ceasefire, which was brokered by Russia and the United States on February 27, to gain ground and prepare for future attacks, especially around Aleppo city.

Aleppo is divided between government and rebel control, with President Bashar al-Assad's forces almost entirely encircling the opposition-held areas.

The rebels are concerned about a potential government siege on their eastern portion.

Mohammed Alloush, a high-ranking official of Jaish al-Islam, who is also the chief negotiator for the opposition in the UN-backed peace talks taking place in Geneva, called on Sunday for retaliation against the government.

"Don't trust the regime. Hit them at their necks... strike them everywhere," Alloush wrote on his Twitter account from the Swiss city.

The rebels, including Ahrar al Sham and the al-Qaeda wing al-Nusra Front, are also under pressure from the Islamic State extremist militia in the northern Aleppo province.

Last update: Mon, 18/04/2016 - 13:25

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