BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida's Iraqi affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, is battling in war-torn Syria to crush rival rebels groups, including fellow Islamists, to take control of the north to set up an operational sanctuary for hard-core jihadists, analysts say.
Indeed, the rival rebel organizations such as ISIS and the other main jihadist group, the al-Nusra Front, spend more time fighting each other than they do the minority Alawite regime in Damascus led by President Bashar Assad.
These and other events have dramatically changed the shape of the 30-month-old war in recent months, much of it to the regime's advantage.
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