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Free Syrian Army

Backed by Russian air power, Syria's army builds on gains

Backed by Russian air power, Syria's army builds on gains

Earlier this month, as Syrian pro-government forces closed in on rebels in the mountains of Latakia province, a prominent Islamist leader issued a frank rebuke to fellow militants.

In a nine-minute speech released on social media, Murad Margoshvili complained of a dearth of fighters, saying that he and his men were "in a Roman wrestling ring where the gladiators fight and the rest of the Islamic world spectates."

"In this decisive moment you leave us without assistance?" asked Margoshvili, an ethnic Chechen commander who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Walid al Shishani and heads a hard-line Islamist faction called Soldiers of Syria.

His exhortations...

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