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January 12, 2014 AT 10:15 AM
A group linked to al Qaeda recaptured much of its stronghold in the northeast Syrian city of Raqqa on Sunday, activists said, dealing a blow to rival rebel groups backed by Gulf Arab and Western states. Fighting between the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and rival Islamists and more moderate rebels have killed hundreds of people over the last 10 days and shaken the hardline militant group led by foreign jihadists. But with the latest counter-offensive, ISIL has regained much of the territory it lost, activists said. In Raqqa, the only provincial capital under rebel control, activists said ISIL fighters battled remnants of rival Islamist units including the Nusra Front, another al Qaeda affiliate, in several neighborhoods.