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Al Qaeda-linked rebel forces responsible for brutal violence in Northern Syria surrendered ground near the Turkish border on Sunday, activists said.

Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) rebel forces relinquished some Syrian villages after protestors and The Free Syrian Army evoked a 24-hour deadline for them to release their prisoners and flee.

Some Syrian areas are still under ISIL control but the 24-deadline includes all rebel fighters in Syria and will expire Sunday night.

ISIL has been responsible for kidnappings and killings of journalists, doctors, activists and officials in Syria.

The withdrawal may be a strategic move to begin ending clashes between certain Syrian forces and ISIL forces, which both oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Assad’s sponsor Iran might be able to “contribute from the sidelines" to upcoming peace talks scheduled to mediate some sort of agreement between factions in Syria’s increasingly complicated civil war.

Across the border in Iraq, ISIL retained control of two Iraqi cities, after raising their flag last week. Iraqi forces killed 19 of the rebels in an air strike on Sunday.

Reuters contributed to this report.