Jihadists Join Aleppo Fight, Eye Islamic State in Syria

(Reuters) John Irish - Foreign Islamists intent on turning Syria into an autocratic theocracy have swollen the ranks of rebels fighting to topple President Assad and think they are waging a "holy war," a French surgeon who treated fighters in Aleppo has said. Jacques Beres, co-founder of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, returned from Syria on Friday after two weeks working clandestinely in a hospital in the besieged city. In an interview in Paris on Saturday, he said that contrary to his previous visits to Homs and Idlib earlier this year, about 60% of those he treated this time were rebel fighters and that at least half of them had been non-Syrian. "They are directly saying that they aren't interested in Bashar al-Assad's fall, but are thinking about how to take power afterwards and set up an Islamic state with sharia law to become part of the world Caliphate," he said. The foreign jihadists included young Frenchmen who said they were inspired by Mohammed Merah, an Islamist militant from Toulouse who killed seven people in March, including a rabbi and three Jewish children, in the name of al-Qaeda.

2012-09-11 00:00:00

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