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Extremists and Al-Qaeda carrying rebel fight in Syria – study

Almost half of the rebel forces fighting against the Syrian government are hardline Islamists or jihadists with Al-Qaeda links, according to a new study due to be published this week.

Split into around 1,000 fragmented cells, the Syrian opposition consists of at least 10,000 fighters who are jihadists with strong links to Al-Qaeda, while another 35,000 are hardline Islamists, according to analysis by defense consultancy IHS Jane's.

The difference between jihadist and hardliners, the Telegraph reports is that the latter concentrates only on the Syria, while jihadist groups have a global outreach. A further 30,000 opposition fighters belong to more moderate groups that have an Islamic character. The study, based interviews with militants and on intelligence estimates, concludes that around 100,000 rebel fighters are involved with the opposition forces.

"The insurgency is now dominated by groups which have at least an Islamist viewpoint on the conflict," Charles Lister, author of the analysis told the Telegraph. "The idea that it is mostly secular groups leading the opposition is just not borne out.”

Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are two dominant groups that have Al-Qaeda links and are gaining momentum on the ground.

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http://rt.com/news/jihadists-dominate-rebels-syria-898/