DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Al-Qaida militants in northern Syria captured a town near the Turkish border Thursday following heavy clashes with Western-backed rebels, prompting the closure of a nearby frontier crossing, activists and Turkish officials said.
It was the latest development in what has effectively become a war within a war in northern and eastern parts of Syria — pitting moderate fighters and Kurdish militiamen against extremists with ties to al-Qaida in recent battles that have left hundreds dead from both sides.
The U.S. and its European and Gulf allies are increasingly concerned about the rising prominence of Islamists among the rebels, who have played a major role in the civil war against President Bashar Assad's forces.
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