Dozens and Dozens of Syrian Rebels Pledge Support to Extremist Factions, al-Nusra Controlling Northern Border

By on October 18, 2013

by Ezra Van Auken

The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition or SNC is noticing a change of heart by some of its member soldiers. What the Obama administration officials declared as a banner group, along with the Supreme Military Council, is now looking more and more vacant everyday as former soldiers join the Islamist ranks. Lacking supplies such as weapons, munitions and other support along with the Islamist influence, moderate rebels are no longer looking to push out the al-Qaeda-types, but rather join them in a do-or-die.

On Thursday, The State Weekly reported, “Highlighting this transition from moderate to Islamist is a recent move by Supreme Military Council’s Free Syrian Army (FSA) members who’ve signed into the ranks with US foes, none of which represent the democratic, Western-backed view.” An estimated 40 rebels left the SMC recently to join Islamist-supported factions, and according to a SMC spokesperson, a former member Zahran Alloush has created their own faction called “Army of Islam”.

Following suit with the dozens of rebels that left the FSA recently, another batch has disavowed the Western banner rebel group. The exiled rebels are apparently located in southern Syria and posted a video, which shows a sole rebel backed by several dozens reading a statement or better yet, a farewell. Anwar al-Sunna, the man who read the statement, said his goodbyes and reasoning, but also made sure to include the fact 66 other rebel factions support a transition to more prominent Islamist rebel factions.

Anwar explained, “We announce that we withdraw our recognition from any political group that claims to represents us, first among them the Coalition and its leadership which have relinquished the principles of the homeland and the revolution,” adding that a unified, political and military group are in the making — not going into detail. As a trend starts up to fold as moderates and transform as Islamists, it’s  putting shivers down the spines of FSA and Western leadership who know their attempt to influence rebels is dying off.

FSA spokesperson Louay Mikdad provided sympathy to the disappearing rebels, saying, “We think our brothers in the Coalition…should listen to the people inside and they should open a direct dialogue with them;” persuading already disgruntled moderates turned Islamists back into the moderate factions will be challenging, considering the groups have already lost critical influence, are running low on supplies and have no real lethal aid support from international powers like the US and Britain.

Besides fighting on the ground and political influence, international influence will be another problem. Jason Ditz of AntiWar.com writes, “The splits are going to make peace talks all the more complicated to organize, as neither the SNC nor any of the other factions have agreed to participate,” which would diminish any chance of the US pushing more weapons to the rebels. Another problem with transporting weapons to the rebels when the majority are Islamist-backed, is that fact border crossings are controlled by the Islamists.

North of Syria is Turkey, and the Turkish/Syrian border towns are being constantly swallowed by the Islamist factions. “The rise of al Qaeda in parts of Syria’s north has left Turkey facing a new security threat on its already vulnerable border,” hurting any international relations looking to provide weapons to the moderate opposition. Islamist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are the main financiers of the border overthrows, maintaining control of important trade routes.

Image Reference

AFP/Miguel Medina

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