At least 50 fighters and two civilians were killed Tuesday in clashes between rival anti-regime groups east of Syria’s capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The powerful Jaish al-Islam, or Army of Islam, has been locked in clashes with rival factions led by Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate in the opposition stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, Al Arabiya news channel reported on Wednesday, quoting the observatory.
Eastern Ghouta is the largest rebel bastion in Damascus province, and Jaish al-Islam had long been dominant in the district.
Jaish al Islam has recently been challenged by Faylaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Fustat, both led by Al-Nusra Front, Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Residents and local officials have tried to mediate an end to the clashes and have staged protests urging the rival forces to stop the bloodletting to no avail.
On Tuesday, a Jaish al-Islam spokesman said his faction was ready to put an end to the fighting based on an initiative by the head of Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee Riad Hijab.
“But our brothers in Faylaq al-Rahman completely rejected this initiative,” Islam Alloush said in a statement.
Syria’s fractured armed opposition movement has been ravaged by infighting, particularly between jihadist groups and their rivals.
More than 270,000 people have been killed and millions more been driven from their homes since the conflict began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011.