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The Times of London, Syrian rebels prepare to abandon Homs, Nicholas Blanford, July 12, 2013. The last opposition-held areas of Homs are set to fall within days to the Syrian army after rebel forces decided to “sacrifice” the country’s third-largest city to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, left, according to diplomats and opposition sources. The fall of Homs will represent a strategic and propaganda victory for the Assad regime, strengthening its grip on the route linking Damascus to the Mediterranean coast.

Reuters, New front opens in Syria as rebels say al Qaeda attack means war, Mariam Karouny and Oliver Holmes, July 12, 2013. Syrian rebels said on Friday the assassination of one of their top commanders by al Qaeda-linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Rivalries have been growing between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamists, whose smaller but more effective forces control most of the rebel-held parts of northern Syria more than two years after pro-democracy protests became an uprising. The anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said the FSA and the Islamic State have had violent exchanges in several areas of Syria over the past few weeks, showing growing antagonism between Assad's foes. "Last Friday, the Islamic State killed an FSA rebel in Idlib province and cut his head off. There have been attacks in many provinces," the Observatory's leader Rami Abdelrahman said. Syria's conflict turned violent in the face of a crackdown on protests. Civil war ensued with disparate rebel groups taking up arms and the Observatory says more than 100,000 people have been killed. U.S. congressional committees are holding up plans to arm the rebels because of fears that such deliveries will not be decisive and the arms might end up in the hands of Islamist militants.

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