Cairo - At the beginning of the Syrian uprising three years ago against the long decades of Assad’s draconian rule, the Syrians have flooded to the streets for regime change without noticing any sectarianism, ideology, partisan, or ethnicity marks.
Cairo – At the beginning of the Syrian uprising three years ago against the long decades of Assad’s draconian rule, the Syrians have flooded to the streets for regime change without noticing any sectarianism, ideology, partisan, or ethnicity marks.
But the matter has changed dramatically since the Syrian regime has used weapons and violence to dispel the peaceful demonstrations, thus opening the door for forming armed resistance groups especially jihadists and Islamists groups, including Tawhid Brigade, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Fajr al-Islam Brigade, Liwa al-Islam, Al-Nusra Front, and Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), among others, to have a role in fighting the Syrian regular forces. At first, they proved efficient and experienced in their efforts in clashes with pro-government troops and elite Hezbollah fighters, thus forming formidable deterrence power in favor of the anti-Assad fighters. But the matter has not gone well over past months as many issues have come to the surface.
ISIS’s savagery and extremist interpretations of Islamic law alienated many Syrians and drove a wedge between rebel groups. There have been recently cashes between Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and rival rebel forces. As many as 2,300 people are reported to have been killed in the confrontations between the Islamists and secular troops backed by the West. Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, said “all of this is damaging to the Syrian revolution.” he added: “So long as it continues, these inter-group hostilities make any kind of provincial, let alone national, opposition victory in Syria highly unlikely.” The infighting would prolong the civil war and suffering of the Syrians at home and abroad. Moreover, Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has seemed to be more concerned by territorial gains and implementing its harsh interpretation of Islamic shariah.
Western intelligence reports indicated that the Syrian government has provided aid to the Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria to depict the uprising as an act of terror as the regime made use of Islamist groups and infiltrated these militias by providing them with money and weapons to attack the Syrian Free Army troops and the minority districts throughout Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Assad: “Assad is trying to make himself the protector of Syria against extremists, when he himself has even been funding some of those extremists – even purposely ceding some territory to them in order to make them more of a problem so he can make the argument that he is somehow the protector against them,” he told reporters on January 17. “We’re not going to be fooled.”
With more than 380,000 barrels of crude oil previously produced by wells around the city of Raqqa, north central Syria, in rebel hands – in particular Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda off-shoot which is the strongest militia in the country, they are able to avoid levying the fees – some say bribes – to pay their men and for supplies that have made other brigades increasingly unpopular. That in turn has been a major incentive for the Syrian youth and extremist to join this kind of groups.
Additionally, Syria is one the most appealing states for Qaeda and jihadists, from different countries like the Gulf states, USA, UK, France, and others with different visions for the future of the country as if the country has no people. US Intelligence Chief James R. Clapper Jr. told a congressional panel Wednesday that the Syrian war had attracted about 7,000 foreign fighters from as many as 50 nations.
As opposition forces are struggling to defeat the pro-government brigades backed by Iran and Shi’a Hizbollah militias, ISIL’s fighters control some strategic areas in Syria, thus putting extra obstacle to the operation and moves of the opposition troops. Atimah is a small place in Adlib, Syria, controlled by ISIL militias, and this is one of the most important passages for anti-Assad fighters to get ammunitions from Turkey and get wounded fighters across the border to hospitals.
Finally, according to The Washington Times, offshoot of al Qaeda in Syria has warned aid workers from the West who try to enter the chaotic country: You risk kidnapping or killing as it has been reportedly that a polio outbreak in Syria has erupted in different cities and towns as result of lack of necessary vaccines that are used to combat this disease, exacerbating human suffering in Syria especially children, reminding us of killing of foreign aid workers in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
AFP Photo/Guillaume Briquet
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