The Daily Telegraph British daily reported Monday that al-Nusra Front militants have withdrawn from the front line against the Syrian regime forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
According to rebel leaders the Front's militants appear to have turned their back on their Syrian leader.
"They are said to have become disillusioned since their Syrian leader, Abu Mohammed al-Jolani, affirmed his loyalty to al-Qaeda after an apparent takeover at the top of the Front by hardline extremists from Iraq," it added.
"The group has split," Mohammed Najib Bannan, the head of the so-called Aleppo Judicial Committee's military arm, said.
Al-Nusra is also said to have withdrawn from the so-called court system.
The split was confirmed by other activists and officials belonging to both units running services in Aleppo and military brigades. The latter also commented on their disappearance from much of Aleppo.
Abdulaziz "Abu Jumaa" al-Salameh, political leader of the biggest brigade in Aleppo, Liwa Tawhid, said that after months in which men had defected to al-Nusra, the tide had begun to turn in the opposite direction. He said in recent days an entire unit of 120 men had left al-Nusra to rejoin Tawhid.
"Before they declared their connection to Zawhiri, we were close," he said. "Now that's all changed."
One rebel militia leader in Aleppo said hostilities against the regime had been put on hold all last week while a group of brigades carried out an order to expel a militia called Ghoraba al-Sham which had been accused of "going rogue" and indulging in a looting rampage.
By today, 200 of its members had been rounded up and jailed, according to rebel officials, and it had been removed from checkpoints at a main entrance to town which was closed briefly on Wednesday during fighting between the two sides.
Source: The Daily Telegraph, Edited by moqawama.org