Amateur video purports to show a convoy for Syria's Nusra Front headed to fight ISIL militants at a border town with Iraq. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A convoy of fighters belonging to two of Syria's main rebel groups headed to the Iraqi border on Saturday (June 28) to fight ISIL insurgents who have captured swathes of Iraq, social media video purports to show. In the video, which Reuters cannot independently verify, the militants are said to heading to the border town of Albu Kamal to fight militants loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The fighters, said to be from the Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army, are said to be traveling through the Syrian town of Deir al-Zor. The footage emerges as Islamist rebels waged a counter-offensive in Albu Kamal on Saturday, challenging the grip of the (ISIL), which has seized large areas on each side of the crumbling Iraqi-Syrian frontier. Earlier this week ISIL fighters appeared to be consolidating their hold over Albu Kamal when the local leader of the rival Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, pledged allegiance to them. ISIL is a more radical offshoot of al Qaeda that has its roots in Iraq and expanded into Syria shortly after the start of the three-year insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad. It controls much of Syria's eastern oil-producing Euphrates River region, and its lightning gains in Iraq's Sunni Muslim northern and western provinces over the last three weeks means ISIL now commands a large cross-border expanse of territory - in which Albu Kamal forms an important link. The town was bombed by jets on Tuesday in an attack which Iraqi and Syrian sources said was carried out by Syria's air force. State media in Damascus denied that any Syrian planes struck inside Iraq and Iraq's prime minister said the Syrian jets hit targets inside Syrian territory. The military gains by Islamic State fighters have highlighted the extent to which the conflict in Iraq is intertwined with the civil war in Syria, where more than 160,000 people have been killed in the last three years.