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Anfal Brigade members join Syrian government forces

A foreign-backed militant group has reportedly broken ranks with the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) to join the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Reports coming out of Syria suggested that the 60-member Liwa al-Anfal militant group and its commander fled over the weekend to an area near the capital, Damascus, that is under the control of government forces.

Carrying their full military equipment, the gunmen surrendered to Syrian authorities to settle their legal status, according to reports.

Meanwhile, other militant groups are trying to play down the defections, saying that the Anfal Brigade had no links to other groups.

Major Issam el-Rayyes, a spokesman for the FSA, told a pro-opposition media outlet that the Anfal Brigade was an independent group with no links to the larger alliances of the militants.

In recent months, the Syrian military has gained the upper hand against the foreign-backed militants, with the overall situation on the ground turning to the favor of Damascus.

Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 210,000 people, according to reports. New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.

Over 3.8 million Syrians have left their country since the beginning of the crisis. More than 7.2 million Syrians have also become internally displaced, according to the United Nation.

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