BLACK FLAG: Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS) raised al-Qaeda’s flag in the eastern Aleppo province town of al-Ra’ee Wednesday, four kilometers from Syria’s northern border of Turkey.
On Thursday, rebel battalions captured the town of Azaz, a former ISIS stronghold, just 10 kilometers from al-Ra’ee, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. ISIS’s convoy then headed east, reportedly capturing al-Ra’ee en route to the town of Jarablus, where ISIS fighters have already clashed with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other rebel groups.
“Raising the flag of God,” says an ISIS fighter in the video in a non-Syrian Arabic dialect, his face covered.
Pro-ISIS activist Abu Yazzan al-Halabi posted the video online, with a song playing in the background calling for an Islamist state in Syria.
Around 15,000 Syrians, most of whom were Turkmen and spoke both Arabic and Turkish, lived in Al-Ra’ee before the beginning of the Syrian conflict. Before this week, the town had previously been under FSA control.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday that 1,070 combatants have been killed since tensions between ISIS and Islamist rebel groups, notably the Islamic Front an Jabhat a-Nusra, exploded in violence at the beginning of January.