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  • Rebel fighters take positions inside a damaged building during clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo: Reuters)

    Rebel fighters take positions inside a damaged building during clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo: Reuters) | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 December 2014

The militant leader called for an armed battle against the Islamic State.

The leader of the Saudi-backed militant group Jaysh al-Islam said Tuesday he may take side with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the Islamic State. 

The militant known as Zahran Alloush suggested a political solution with Damascus and called to conduct an armed battle against the extremists. His remarks have drawn criticism from other militant groups in Syria, local media reported. 

The militia lead by Alloush is made up of 45,000 fighters and is part of the Islamic Front, a coalition of armed groups. Some analysts suggest he is the most powerful man in rebel held Syria. 

Last moth media reported that secret talks were held between the Syrian government and a militant group. The meeting reportedly took place in the city of Duma, in Damascus countryside, where Jaysh al-Islam is also based.

The ongoing armed conflict taking place in Syria began in the early spring 2011 within the context of protests and uprising in some Arab countries. According to official figures more than 200,000 people have been killed so far. 

Some 7.6 million Syrians are now internally displaced, and another 3.3 million have fled to neighboring countries to avoid the violent armed conflict. 

The country is plagued by militant groups, sponsored by the U.S. and some Gulf, operating against the Syrian government as the army continues to make more gains against the extremists on several fronts.

Meanwhile the government of President Assad has reportedly accepted calls for re-engaging with the armed opposition in a new round of peace talks planned by Russia.

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