GHOST TOWN:Pictures show storefronts shuttered and the streets all but empty in the northeastern Aleppo town of Menbej on Sunday after some residents decided to launch a general strike in opposition to abusive practices by al-Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham (ISIS).
“The commercial shops in Menbej have closed their doors,” wrote Dubai-based al-Aan News on Sunday in an article showing several photos of the near-deserted city.
Residents announced the strike in protest over a series of alleged ISIS abuses in Menbej, including executing two young men accused of rape and hanging their corpses from a tree.
Pro-opposition news site Aksalser on Sunday cited unnamed activists reporting that ISIS had opened fire on a demonstration demanding that the group leave the city, wounding three protestors.
Aksalser added that ISIS denied any such strike or demonstration in Menbej, insisting that “natural life” remained uninterrupted.
ISIS seized the town of Menbej, some 90km northeast of Aleppo city, in early December 2013 and retained control of it, even after being ousted from Aleppo proper during intra-rebel fighting that began in January.
Hostilities between ISIS and other armed factions have only increased since then. On Saturday, five powerful Islamist coalitions—excluding both ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat a-Nusra—signed a “Revolutionary Covenant” denouncing “fundamentalism and extremism,” an apparent jab at ISIS and a nod to both Syrian and international audiences fearing the revolution’s trajectory.
One day later, ISIS reportedly published a 32-page fatwa declaring the Islamic Front an “apostate” group and declaring war against it.
The sparring comes against the backdrop of a major ISIS offensive in Syria’s northeastern, oil-rich Deir e-Zor province, during which ISIS has ousted Jabhat a-Nusra and other rebel groups from large swathes of the province.
-May 19, 20
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