Hundreds of foreign jihadists leave Syria amid intensive clashes


DAMASCUS, Feb. 26 — Hundreds of foreign jihadist fighters joining the battles against the Syrian troops were seen leaving Syria on Tuesday through borders with neighboring Turkey, the opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The reason behind the withdrawal is still vague, said the Observatory, citing one fighter as saying that his comrades “have been pulled out of Syria to join jihadists in Mali.”

The Observatory said the fighters pulled out from Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, a main hotspot in Syria’s long- standing conflict.

The Syrian government has for long accused Turkey of making its lands as routes for the foreign radical fighters in order to fight against the Syrian administration.

Meantime, the Syrian air force shelled the town of Kureen in Idlib earlier in the day, said the Observatory.

The London-based watch group also reported a big explosion in the town of Neyrab, a suburb of Alleppo, without spelling details on causalities.

Air raids and mortar attacks had rocked the vicinity of the police academy in the town of Khan Al-Asal, in the northern province of Aleppo, the observatory said, reiterating that the academy has been besieged by the rebels since last month in a bid to storm it.

In the Kurdish-dominated district of Ashrafieh, clashes erupted earlier in the day between rebel fighters and Kurdish local committees, the Observatory continued.

In the meantime, the Syrian army waged a wide-scale operation in hotspots surrounding Damascus after intensive clashes and blasts when the rebels staged to explosions to make their way to Damascus. The rebels’ fresh attempt to storm Damascus has failed, local media reports said.

On Monday night, a passenger bus coming from the pro-government Sweida province in southern Syria was highjacked by gunmen, local media said, adding that the majority of passengers were children and women.

Syria has been witnessing turmoil for nearly two years, leaving thousands of people dead and injured. No foreseeable solution was proposed as both conflicting sides have their own vision of political solution and dialogue.

On Monday, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said his government was ready to talk with all parties desirous of dialogue, including the armed rebels on ground while combating terrorism at the same time.

For his side, the head of the opposition coalition abroad, Moaz al-Khatib, said his group was ready to go anywhere in order to ” ease the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Also, the rebels’ Free Army reportedly said they have their own conditions to embark on a dialogue with the Syrian government, mainly holding the dialogue in “liberated areas” and under international supervision.