Rebels of Hazzm Movement. File photo
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One of the main western-backed rebel groups announced on Sunday that it had dissolved itself and joined a larger Islamist alliance, weeks into a battle which saw it lose ground and men to more powerful al Qaeda insurgents.
Hazzm is one of the last remnants of non-jihadist opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in northern Syria, much of which has been seized by the Nusra Front and Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda that controls roughly a third of Syria.
The statement posted online said its fighters would join the Shamiyah Front, an alliance of Islamist brigades in Aleppo, to prevent further bloodshed.
The decision comes after heavy weekend fighting between it and the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s official Syrian wing. Both Hazzm, which is part of the Free Syria Army collection of mainstream rebel groups, and Nusra fight the government.
Hazzm has received what it describes as small amounts of military aid from foreign states opposed to Assad, including U.S.-made anti-tank missiles. But it has lost ground to better armed and financed jihadists.
On Saturday, the Nusra Front drove Hazzm out of a strategic northern Regiment 46 base in Aleppo province and killed around 30 of its fighters, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.