Syrian radicals seen as close to Daish battled a rival hardline faction on Monday in northwestern Syria, a war monitor and an official with another insurgent group said, as Russia released drone footage showing more destruction in Palmyra.
Jund Al Aqsa and Tahrir Al Sham clashed around Kafr Zeita in the countryside north of Hama, and near Tamaniaa, Khan Sheikhoun and Tal Aaas in southern Idlib Province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.
An official with a rebel group that fights under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which was not involved in Monday’s confrontations, confirmed the fighting.
Since the army took Aleppo in December, some of the many armed groups in the northwest have consolidated into factions that are now fighting each other for control of territory and resources.
Tahrir Al Sham was formed in January from a merger of Syria’s former branch of Al Qaeda, previously known as the Nusra Front and Jabhat Fateh Al Sham, along with several other groups
Jund Al Aqsa and Fateh Al Sham fell out late last year despite having previously aligned with each other, and insurgent sources and the Observatory say Jund Al Aqsa’s ideology is closer to that of Daish, Al Qaeda’s main rival.
Both Tahrir Al Sham and Jund Al Aqsa are also fighting against Ahrar Al Sham, and rebel factions fighting under the FSA banner. Radical groups attacked the FSA for sending delegates to peace talks in Kazakhstan last month.
Russian military on Monday released drone footage showing more destruction of treasured monuments by Daish in Syria’s Palmyra since the radicals recaptured the Unesco World Heritage Site late last year.
The black-and-white video dated February 5 shows part of the Roman amphitheatre reduced to rubble and the tetrapylon, a 16-columned structure that marked one end of the ancient city’s colonnade, wiped out.
“The pictures clearly show that the terrorists blew up the proscenium – the central part of the ancient Roman theatre – and the columns of the tetrapylon,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
The new wave of destruction was first announced last month by Syria’s antiquities chief, with the UN’s cultural agency blasting it as a “war crime” and “cultural cleansing”.
Daish scored a major propaganda coup by recapturing Palmyra from the Syrian government in December, some nine months after they were ousted from the historic site.
Before being forced out of Palmyra in a Russian-backed offensive in March, Daish razed world-famous temples and tower tombs at the site.