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(55,894 posts)
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 06:38 PM Aug 2013

Syrian Rebels- They Aren't All Al Qaeda. Noticing Rightwing Sites Claiming This

and unfortunately some DU'ers are as well.

Who are the Syrian Rebels? Here's the info I found. Will stand corrected if this is wrong:

Free Syrian Arm- 50,000 fighters, a self-declared non-sectarian group of early army defectors. Remains the largest opposition group in the country.

Syrian Liberation Front- 37,000 fighters operating in southeast. Islamist ideology

Syrian Islamic Front- 13,000 fighters, operate in northeast. Islamist ideology

Jabhat al-Nusra- 5000 fighters originally, comprised of Iraqi insurgents & allied to Al Qaeda in Iraq. They are well organized. Many Free Syrian army fighters are apparently defecting to this group.


"The lack of organizational structure both within the Free Syrian Army and between rival groups has allowed human rights abuses, such as the recent confirmation of rebel commander Khaled al-Hamad eating a dead man's heart, as well as many other alleged abuses, to become common and go unpunished.

This gives Assad an advantage in the propaganda war, in which he portrays all rebels as thugs and terrorists. As well as undermining their support on the international stage, this mobilises Assad's Alawite base and allows his ruthless crackdown to continue with impunity."



(35,978 posts)
1. regarding your subject line...
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 06:41 PM
Aug 2013

...I'm struck by the potential broader applications of that statement. For example, it's certainly true of the administration's drone strike victims. It's also true of most everyone-- i.e. all of us-- under constant surveillance as possible "threats" to national security.

I'll return you now to your regularly scheduled thread.


(51,907 posts)
3. Not all Islamists are Al Qaeda--
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 06:44 PM
Aug 2013

--but most of them would be very happy to implement "Christians to Beirut; Alawites to the grave."


Warren Stupidity

(48,181 posts)
9. Yes you have assembled "facts" to attack a position not in evidence.
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 07:01 PM
Aug 2013

The argument is not that the rebels are "all al qaeda", it is that some are, some are non al qaeda Sunni jihadists, and some are officially secular, but we have no clue what factions will emerge on top. We likely don't care. The goal is to isolate Iran. The goal is not to "save Syria".



(55,894 posts)
11. Look, I've replied to a number of DU'ers saying the rebels=Al Qaeda. So if I'm stating the obvious
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 07:08 PM
Aug 2013

it's because there are some who are misinformed.



(114,904 posts)
6. Yes, you're wrong.
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 06:53 PM
Aug 2013

By Ben Hubbard
The New York Times
Posted: 04/28/2013 12:01:00 AM MDT1 comments

Syrian rebel fighters gather April 16 in Aleppo's Umayyad Mosque complex, which had served as a key battleground since July. The tower was shelled and destroyed Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images file)

CAIRO — In Syria's largest city, Aleppo, rebels who are aligned with al-Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.

Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.


The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion, which has been led since its start by Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, mostly in conservative, marginalized areas. The descent into brutal civil war has hardened sectarian differences and the failure of more mainstream rebel groups to secure regular arms supplies has allowed Islamists to fill the void and win supporters.





(55,894 posts)
8. your link doesn't say they are all Al Qaeda. It comports with my OP. Quote from your link-
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 07:00 PM
Aug 2013

When the armed rebellion began, defectors from the government's staunchly secular army formed the vanguard. The rebel movement has since grown to include fighters with a wide range of views, including al-Qaeda-aligned jihadis seeking to establish an Islamic emirate, political Islamists inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and others who want an Islamic-influenced legal code like that found in many Arab states.

Of most concern to the United States is the Nusra Front, whose leader recently confirmed that the group cooperated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and pledged fealty to al-Qaeda's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's longtime deputy.

"They are the strongest military force in the area," said the commander of a Hasaka rebel brigade reached via Skype. "We can't deny it."

But most of its fighters joined the group for the weapons, he said, not the ideology, and that some left after discovering the al-Qaeda connection.

"Most of the youth who joined them did so to topple the regime, not because they wanted to join al-Qaeda," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation."


(24,692 posts)
13. Assad has from the beginning portrayed this as a "you are with me or the terrorists" even
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 07:55 PM
Aug 2013

when the protests were massive and peaceful in early 2011.

He knows that it his best PR strategy. Most people in the West, certainly most liberals, generally don't support dictators. However, many will view a dictator as the "lesser of two evils" if the alternative is a bunch of terrorists. If you are a dictator and need some sympathy, its wise to portray your opponents as completely comprised of terrorists - and the scariest of all, Al Qaeda terrorists.

What I read is that, aside from Assad's propaganda, the Al Qaeda linked Al Nusra Front numbers from 6,000 to 10,000 fighters and they are some of the best fighters in the opposition. That accounts for 10-20% of the total rebel fighters. They are certainly not a majority, but they are a force that will have to be reckoned with in the long run.



(17,064 posts)
7. No one has said all the rebels are affiliated with AQ.
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 06:56 PM
Aug 2013

Most are...FSA is only one rebel group of several, and if Assad is removed from power the AQ rebel groups desiring an Islamic State will probably control the shots. It is unlikely the FSA has enough might to establish the secular state they desire. When the Islamic rebels seize control, then all arms in Syria (including chemical weapons) likely fall into AQ hands. Not a good scenerio for regional stability.


(22,281 posts)
12. Yeah there are plenty of terrorist groups working together.
Thu Aug 29, 2013, 07:48 PM
Aug 2013

Check out the Aleppo council where AQ rules with the support of other terrorist groups, meting out punishment under brutal sharia. Not one dime, not one bullet for these terrorists!

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