By Erika Solomon BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of rebels have pledged allegiance to al Qaeda-affiliated forces in northern and eastern Syria, activists and Islamist sources said on Friday, strengthening the group's control in the region. Not only individual fighters, but entire units have joined the small but powerful al Qaeda-linked groups - the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - in recent days, according to the sources inside Syria. "This is a sign the radical groups are still growing in power. This region could fall to the jihadists," said an activist in the eastern town of Raqqa, who asked not to be identified. "We may see this become a trend." Clashes have been intensifying between Nusra or ISIL and the less effective but more moderate forces that make up the majority of opposition fighters, especially in opposition-held territory along Syria's northern and eastern borders. At least two entire rebel brigades are said to have joined the Nusra Front in the opposition-held province of Raqqa, which borders Turkey. One of the groups, the Raqqa Revolutionaries, has about 750 fighters in total, according to a source close to Islamist forces who spoke on condition of anonymity. Another group, the God's Victory Brigade, said in a statement on Facebook that all of its leaders and fighters had pledged loyalty to Nusra Front. "God's Victory Brigade, which is comprise of 15 battalions, had pledged its allegiance to the Nusra Front, giving complete submission (to it) in times of hardship and of ease," it said. A video uploaded by activists from Raqqa on Friday showed a massive convoy of fighters on cars and trucks with artillery and machine guns as they waved black flags. The video's title said it showed a newly unified force of Nusra fighters and other rebel battalions who had recently pledged loyalty. Western forces have been wary of giving further support or weapons to opposition forces who are not only plagued by internal divisions, but the rising influence of al Qaeda groups. Sporadic clashes between harder-line Islamists and more moderate rebels are increasingly frequent and activists fear that is weakening the two-and-a-half-year revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. The uprising began as peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule but has degenerated into a war that has killed more than 100,000. While some tensions stem from contrasting ideological outlooks, most rebel-on-rebel fighting is more about control of territory and the spoils of war. Some activists said the new Islamist loyalty pledges were timed to combat increasing hostility from rival rebel groups, including the Supreme Military Council, the armed wing of the opposition's Western-backed umbrella leadership abroad. Many Syrian rebels are attracted to radical units because they are generally more effective than the moderate forces that have Western backing but receive only halting military aid. Islamists have steady, private sources of funding and incorporate experienced militants, many of them from abroad, who have fought U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan. (Editing by Louise Ireland)
- Women's Health
Blake Lively took advantage of the pre-Labor Day summer season to drop her own hump day thirst-trap bikini pic, featuring her poolside in a short sleeved white top and sleek bottom.
Identical college twins were accused of cheating in an exam by signaling. They won $1.5 million in damages after a jury decided they hadn't cheated because their minds were connected.
A pair of identical twins was discredited when they were accused of cheating on a medical exam. The sisters have finally cleared their names in court.
The Prince and Princess of Wales are capping off their three-day visit to Boston with a glamorous awards ceremony recognizing environmental heroes
- Good Housekeeping
'Today' show co-host Jenna Bush Hager wore a sexy black sleeveless dress while appearing as a guest on Andy Cohen's show 'Watch What Happens Live.'
- Fox News
Warnock or Walker? New poll shows who is leading heated GA Senate runoff, as countdown to election begins
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock is leading the Senate race against Herschel Walker in a new CNN/SSRS poll that also found the economy remains the top issue to Georgia voters.
- Yahoo Sports
The Cowboys team owner said, "I don’t know of anybody that I respect more" than LeBron James.
- The Telegraph
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been accused of taking a private photographer into Buckingham Palace without permission during their farewell tour in Britain, after a behind-the-scenes image was broadcast to millions in their new Netflix trailer.
- AZCentral | The Arizona Republic
A federal judge ordered sanctions against the attorneys of Kari Lake and Mark Finchem in their lawsuit against voting machines.
Camila Cabello wore a silky pink suit with no top underneath at L'Oréal Paris' Women Of Worth Celebration. Click here for photos at Cosmopolitan UK.
Cristiano Ronaldo said he was involved in a verbal spat with a South Korean player who criticised him for failing to leave the field quickly enough when he was substituted during Portugal's 2-1 World Cup defeat on Friday.
Catherine Zeta-Jones Has a Refreshing Take on Why She Doesn't Want Her Marriage to Michael Douglas to Be 'Relationship Goals'
Catherine Zeta-Jones loves being married to Michael Douglas, but she doesn’t want the pressure of their marriage to become a “relationship goals” hashtag. The 53-year-old actress is here to remind everyone that they have issues just like any other couple — life is not always sunshine and roses. “I think it’s more about not thinking, for […]
Kim has responded to Ye's accusations.
Robin Roberts Is ‘Furious’ at ‘GMA’ Co-Host Amy Robach’s ‘Messy’ Scandal With TJ Holmes—They Were So ‘Close’
She thinks it's a "dirty" look for "Good Morning America."
President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted the State dinner at the White House on Thursday
- Longhorns Wire
Missouri is refusing a bowl game with Kansas?
The couple's three-day trip comes amid fresh racism allegations for Britain's royal institution.
Which is healthiest — an ice-cream cone, a bag of Fritos or a multigrain bagel? The answer may surprise you.
Research from Tufts University shows that certain foods often considered unhealthy are more nutritious than some might expect
- USA TODAY
A "rogue wave" hit the Viking Polaris earlier this week – when the Antarctica cruise was heading to Ushiaia, Argentina, travel company Viking said.
Disneyland Resort officials announced on Thursday a special ticket offer for the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks exclusively for Southern California residents.
- The Wrap
HLN will simulcast “CNN This Morning" beginning Dec. 6