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In Aleppo, rebels brace for full force of Syria's Assad regime

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As civilians flee, foreign fighters are reportedly entering the region to lend their support to the rebels' fight, according to CNN. Correspondent Ivan Watson and his crew met a Libyan fighter dressed in full camouflage and carrying a Kalashnikov rifle who said others would be joining him. Mr. Watson said that earlier this week the crew met at least one fighter from Turkey, as well as others they believed came from North Africa. The support may be helpful as fighting rages on in Syria for the 17th month, but some rebels fear an Islamist political agenda could usurp their fight.

“The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims,” Watson reported on CNN International’s “Amanpour” [last] night. “And that’s definitely cause for concern among some Syrian revolutionaries I know … who do not want an Islamist political agenda to be mixed in with their revolution.”A majority of Syrians are Sunnis, and Sunnis make up a bulk of the opposition to Syria’s regime, which is dominated by minority Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam. 

Rebel fighters are believed to hold about half of the city under their control, French reporter Adrien Jaulmes, who was traveling with rebels in Aleppo yesterday, told the BBC. Activists say the rebels are not expected to be able to hold Aleppo if faced with a full government assault, as has been the case in Damascus.

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