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Syrian Insurgents Battle Each Other

by Stephen Lendman Friday, Sep. 20, 2013 at 11:33 AM


Syrian Insurgents Battle Each Other

by Stephen Lendman

Even media scoundrels took note. More on that below. A previous article discussed opposition elements in disarray.

Syrian National Coalition (SNC) internal disputes show it's unable to function effectively. Leadership is weak.

The SNC is an artificial construct. It lacks legitimacy. It resembles a gang that can't shoot straight. On July 8, self-styled prime minister Ghassan Hitto resigned.

He did so after four months in office. He did it two days after SNC members elected Ahmad Asi-al Jarba president.

The post was vacant since Mouaz al-Khatib resigned in April. He cited frustration over lack of enough international support, internal divisions, and disarray among "rebel" factions.

Internecine fighting continues. Elements battle each other. On July 12, The New York Times headlined "Syrian Rebel Infighting Undermines Anti-Assad Effort," saying:

"Competing rebel factions in Syria are increasingly attacking each other in a series of killings, kidnappings and beheadings, undermining the already struggling effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad."

Free Syrian Army commanders warned that efforts to topple Assad could be undermined by internecine infighting.

It's "a new low for an opposition never able to unite its military or civilian operations."

Disputes aren't just over weapons and tactics. They reflect a desire to usurp power. Extremist elements want religious rule imposed.

They comprise the vast majority of fighters. Assad believes they constitute from 80 - 90%. His front line forces are in the best position to know.

They battle them toe-to-toe. They do so daily. They've taken heavy casualties. They courageously persist.

On August 25, Reuters reported "chaos among opposition forces and al-Qaeda's growing role. (They're) barriers to any intervention." Anti-Assad unity proves illusive.

On September 12, the Los Angeles Times headlined "Syrian rebels face another foe: Al Qaeda-linked militants," saying:

Mainstream insurgents are at odds with their most extremist elements. A Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said Islamists aren't "coming to fight the regime."

"They are coming to fight us. We're going to fight them first and then the regime." Their vision conflicts with secularists.

They routed FSA forces from three northern communities - Jarabulus, Dana and Raqqah. Another FSA commander said:

"They have opened a new front line for us; they work for the regime because they have distracted us from our fight" to depose it.

John Kerry inverts truth. He does so claiming opposition forces are "increasingly becom(ing) more defined by (their) moderation, more defined by the breadth of (their) membership, and more defined by (their) adherence to (a) democratic process."

Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and other extremist elements are clear is saying their goal is establishing an Islamist state. They reject a sectarian, nationalistic, ethnic one.

On September 18, the Wall Street Journal headlined "Rebel-on-Rebel Violence Seizes Syria," saying:

"Across northern and eastern Syria, units of the jihadist group known as ISIS are seizing territory - on the battlefield and behind the front lines - from Western-backed rebels.

Some FSA elements consider extremists as great a threat as Assad's forces. An unnamed US official calls the Syrian conflict "a three-front war."

Anti-Assad forces face Syria's military, Hezbollah and multinational Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadists.

FSA commanders say they involved them in a battle they're ill-equipped to wage. Some US officials call it one for FSA's survival.

ISIS is a magnet for thousands of foreign jihadists. They view ongoing conflict as a historic Sunni holy war.

According to centuries-old Islamist prophecy they espouse, they believe establishing a Syrian caliphate is prelude to a global one. They're willing to commit cold-blooded mass murder to achieve it.

In 2011, they ravaged Libya. They're active again in Iraq. They're terrorizing Syrian civilians. They call alawites and shiites apostates. They attack their shrines. They kidnap and assassinate their adherents.

They abhor peaceful conflict resolution. War is their option of choice. On Wednesday, ISIS/FSA clashes broke out in Azaz. It's near Turkey's border.

Both sides took casualties. Fighting continued overnight. ISIS forces want control of four major crossings. Doing so opens their supply routes. On Thursday, they captured Azaz. They did so after heavy fighting.

FSA General Selim Idris lost control over some northern areas.

On September 19, Middle East online headlined "Opposition rebels fight each other for Syria border town," saying:

"Fighters allied to Al-Qaeda tightened their grip on a Syrian border town Thursday, as President Bashar al-Assad claimed most of the rebels fighting his forces were linked to the extremist group."

Azaz fighting began when ISIS fighters tried to kidnap a German doctor working there. They failed. He's safe. Town residents say Islamists control the area. In July 2012, FSA forces first overran it.

Aziz is home to many Syrians who fled Aleppo. They sought a safe place to live. They wanted to avoid death and destruction.

In recent months, tensions between FSA and ISIS forces escalated. Islamists accused FSA's Supreme Military Command of collaborating with the West. They called doing so heretical.

Turkey shut one of its border crossings. It's near Azaz. An Ankara official said:

"The Oncupinar border gate has been closed for security reasons as there is still confusion about what is happening on the Syrian side."

"All humanitarian assistance that normally goes through the gate has ceased."

Mainstream forces and extremists battle for control. Syrian civilians suffer most. The soul of a nation hangs in the balance. Its survival is at stake.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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