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article imageObama's moderate Syrian rebels outnumbered by Islamic militants

By Ken Hanly     Jun 29, 2014 in World
Damascus - Moderate rebels such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are the ones backed by the US. However, moderates are diminishing as rebels of consequence in the ongoing battle against Assad forces.
More and more aggressive and effective Islamist factions are becoming key players . The most militant group ISIS has not only seized a large swathe of territory in Syria but controls much of north eastern Iraq and moved within striking distance of Baghdad. They have also captured large weapon supplies with some no doubt being transported back into Syria. Recently they have declared the areas they occupy an Islamic Caliphate.
Islamist groups have set up their own umbrella organization in competition with the the FSA, the Islamic Front. The Washington Post has an entire article detailing reasons given by former FSA fighters why they left for Islamist groups. Even when FSA fighters joined the most militant groups such as Jabhat al Nusra or iSIS it was not for ideological reasons but other reasons such as their perceived effectiveness against Assad. Many complained that there was poor leadership and a great deal of "politics" involved with FSA and that many leaders were in Turkey rather than leading in Syria.
Obama wants $500 million to train and arm "moderate" factions of the rebels. There is already an ongoing CIA project in Jordan that trains several hundred fighters each month. Officials say it will take a year to get the new program underway. ISIS is already threatening Jordan as it controls areas on the border and it and other Islamist groups also control most the border along the Golan Heights. Jordan may even ask Israel to attack ISIS forces. So far Israel has been attacking Assad forces. The recent Syrian shelling of a pickup that killed an Israeli just across the border may have been because the Assad forces thought it was a rebel pickup.
A member of the western-backed Syrian National Coalition opposition complained:"This decision is a year and a half too late,Had it not been for Obama's hesitation all along, this wouldn't be happening in Iraq today nor would there be this proliferation of extremist factions in Syria,"
US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the importance of fighting ISIS when he met Syrian opposition leader Ahmed al-Jarba in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. He made it clear that this was his priority for the role of the moderate rebels the US supports. Kerry noted that the moderate opposition "has the ability to be a very important player in pushing back against ISIL's presence... not just in Syria, but also in Iraq," An activist in Aleppo claimed that the US aid will only worsen the situation as the rebels want to oust Assad not egage in a new war between rebels and extremists.
Writing in the Independent Robert Fisk is even more caustic in his evaluation of Obama's policy. He claims the moderates of the FSA have decomposed: Its men have gone home, switched to the bearded Islamists of the Nusrah or Isis – or Isil if we heed the latest acronym – or re-deserted to the government army and taken up arms for Assad again. Some freedom fighters! They weren’t given enough weapons, we are told. Now they’ll get more. And no doubt sell them – as they did the last lot. For it is a sad fact of war that whenever a gun crosses a border, it represents not loyalty but cash. As Fisk points out even the UK Defence Secretary admitted in a TV interview that weapons given to "moderate rebels" ended up in the hands of the "bad guys." Fisk claims that Obama's plans will result in both Assad and Al-Maliki retaining power.
More about islamic front, Free Syrian Army, Obama's support for Syrian rebels
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