Saturday, September 20, 2014

Moderate Syrian rebels of FSA refuse to join Obama coalition to fight the Islamic State

The Free Syrian Army(FSA) that the US classifies as moderate Syrian rebels has announced that it will not join the US anti-Islamic State coalition.

The head of the western-backed Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad Assad, the leader of the FSA also said that his group would not participate in attacks against the Islamic State. Assad is not related to the Syrian president Bashar Assad. The Colonel's main objection to the coalition is that it does not have as its primary goal regime change to replace president Bashar Assad and his government. Colonel Assad said: "If they want to see the Free Syrian Army on their side, they should give assurances on toppling the Assad regime and on a plan including revolutionary principles."
 The statement by the Colonel is in contrast to an earlier statement by the western-backed political group, the Syrian National Coalition associated with the FSA and recognized by some countries, including many Arab states, as representing the Syrian people. The group is not recognized by many rebel groups however as representing them including the Islamic Front. The Syrian National Council a sizable group within the Coalition withdrew after the Coalition attended the Geneva Peace Talks with the Assad government. The Coalition claimed that it was willing to work with the coalition to fight the Islamic State. Earlier, a ceasefire had been announced in Damascus between a rebel group, the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) and Islamic State fighters in the Damascus area. The Islamic State could very well agree not to target rebel forces in many areas in return for not being attacked themselves, and launching a coordinated effort against the Assad regime. Up to now there have been numerous clashes between Islamic State fighters and other rebels. A ceasefire with other rebels could very well foil completely the US aim of using rebels as proxy forces to defeat the Islamic State.
However, there are reports that the SRF agreement had been breached by the Islamic State. There are other reports of alliances between moderates and radical groups on the Lebanon border. The situation is certainly confusing with conflicting reports.
The National Coalition reaffirmed that it would not cooperate with Israel in any fight against the Islamic State. The group disowned Kamel Lubnani for traveling to Israel to attend a counter-terrorism conference. Israel is worried that Assad forces on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights have lost control to radical rebel groups including the Al-Nusra front linked to Al Qaeda. Obama's stated intention is to further train and equip moderate Syrian rebels to attack the Islamic State. The rebels on the ground in Syria have other views as to what they will do with their training and weapons.
Even now some of the anti-tank weapons provided to moderate rebels turned up in the hands of the Islamic State. The FSA has also experienced defections not only to the larger Islamic Front but also to Al-Nusra Front and even the Islamic State itself. What is certain in all of this is that there will be more killing and that arms manufacturers will see increasing demand for their products. The complexity of the situation completely eludes some US politicians as is illustrated by the appended video from the Young Turks.The level of fearful rhetoric is mind-boggling.

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