BEIRUT

Rebel infighting claims nearly 500 lives in week

Many Syrians barricaded themselves in their homes Friday, while others emerged from mosques angrily accusing an al-Qaida-linked group of hijacking their revolution, in a week that saw nearly 500 people killed in rebel infighting.

The rebel-on-rebel clashes have overshadowed the battle against President Bashar Assad and underscore the perils for civilians caught in the crossfire of two parallel wars.

The violence, which pits fighters from a variety of Islamic groups and mainstream factions against the feared al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, have spread across four provinces in opposition-held parts of northern Syria.

The infighting is helping Assad, whose forces have clawed back some of the ground lost to the rebels in recent months as they bombard the north and other opposition regions with warplanes, heavy artillery and crude explosive-filled barrels dropped over rebel neighborhoods.

JUBA, South Sudan

South Sudan recaptures capital of oil-rich state

South Sudan on Friday scored a significant victory in its three-week conflict against rebel forces, recapturing the capital of oil-rich Unity state.

The government is now “in full control” of Bentiu, army spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said in the capital Juba.

Bentiu fell to rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar in December.

Aguer said government forces captured 10 tanks and some vehicles after a gunfire exchange that lasted for about two hours. 

– From news service reports