Syria: More US Weaponry goes to al-Qaeda

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

al-Akhbar (Beirut) reports that al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Levant, also known as the Support Front (jabhat al-Nusra), repeated scenarios it had previously acted out against other “moderate” remnants of the old Free Syrian Army. It launched a massive attack on the headquarters of Division 13 and occupied most of its position in the southern hinterlands of Idlib.

Al-Nusra_Front
h/t Wikipedia (File)

The al-Qaeda fighters captured or killed dozens of Division 13 fighters, who had received CIA training in the use of TOW anti-tank munitions in bases abroad. Syria’s al-Qaeda reports directly to 9/11 mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri, who now leads al-Qaeda.

With the TOWs, al-Qaeda can now more effectively fight other rebels, or if they get time, the al-Assad regime.

The dispute between al-Qaeda in Syria and US-backed Division 13 broke out about a week ago when civilian demonstrators against the al-Assad regime came out in Maarat al-Nu`man waving the flag of the civil Syrian revolution instead of the black banner of al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda fighters attacked the demonstrators and tore up their flags, raising the black standard in their place.

The night before last, violent clashes broke out in the northern neighborhood of Maarat al-Numaan between guerrillas of Division 13 and al-Qaeda fighters in which 6 were killed all together along with several being wounded. Then al-Qaeda, angered (and it is easily angered) attacked the HQ of Division 13. After a firefight involving a hail of bullets, al-Qaeda won and took over. Then the fighting spread to surrounding small towns, which also fell to al-Qaeda.

As a result, al-Qaeda took control of a training camp and stores of American-supplied weapons including TOW anti-tank weapons. An al-Qaeda announcement tried to make Division 13 look like the aggressor here (Syria’s extremists must be studying the techniques of Donald Trump– always blame the other guy).

Activists denounced the Freemen of Syria (Ahrar al-Sham), a major Salafi Jihadi opposition group, for not condemning al-Qaeda’s actions. The Freemen of Syria is part of a political coalition, the Army of Conquest, of which al-Qaeda is also a member.

There have been several occasions on which the CIA “vetted” groups have been taken over by al-Qaeda, or in which US weapons leaked from Free Syrian Army remnants to militants.

When Russia began bombing Syria intensively last fall, it concentrated on al-Qaeda positions and those of close al-Qaeda allies, and was condemned for this prudent move by the US and Europe, who said that President Vladimir Putin should have concentrated on Daesh (ISIS, ISIL). But it is al-Qaeda that is important in the western theater of the civil war.

The US is to its shame more or less allied with the allies of al-Qaeda in Syria, as though Washington learned absolutely nothing from the 1980s in Afghanistan. Groups such as the Freemen of Syria ought to have to relinquish their al-Qaeda ties before being rehabilitated in Washington. And, imagine, all this happened because al-Qaeda couldn’t stand the civil revolutionary Syrian flag.

Al-Qaeda may have been emboldened by the current cessation of hostilities. But it should remember that Russia has exempted from that ceasefire two groups– al-Qaeda and Daesh.

5 Responses

  1. That is the problem with arming one side. if they are over run or change sides so do the weapons. It is not always the best strategy.

    Most of the west does not understand the middle east and haven’t even been bright enough to get a score card which list the teams and their alligences. Oh, well at least the arms dealers are making a lot of money. its just so sad so many innocent people are being killed and a country destroyed.

  2. Is it not time for Western and Saudi politicians to realize that their misbegotten plan to topple President Bashar Assad and replace his government with a Salafi-Wahhabi regime has failed with disastrous consequences? He is still in place but hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed, Syria has been destroyed, terrorism has devastated the Middle East, the latest example being the terrorist attack in the heart of Ankara yesterday, and waves of refugees have given rise to the emergence of far-right parties in Europe and America as seen by the triumph of ADF in yesterday’s local elections in parts of Germany and Donald Trump’s popularity among some sections of American population. Many European pundits are wondering if the EU can survive, while some are asking if Europe can survive link to human-wrongs-watch.net

    The Syrian people and indeed people in the Middle East have suffered enough. The West should try to rein in Saudi ambitions and allow the fragile ceasefire that has now held for close to two weeks in Syria to continue. The security of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and other countries in the Middle East should be safeguarded through a regional security plan, rather than by trying to topple regimes in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere.

    • Is it not time for US politicians to realize that the alliance with *SAUDI ARABIA*, a repressive, theocratic, absolute monarchy which treats women as property, is the core problem here?

      Saudi Arabia is run by ideological supporters of Wahhabiism, so it will continue to support it. But we in the West should not!

  3. “Syria’s al-Qaeda reports directly to 9/11 mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri, who now leads al-Qaeda.”

    Slightly off topic but it seems that the US hunt for al-Zawahiri , which must be huge, doesn’t get any media or political play. The hunt and capture/killing of bin Ladin was always on the mind, and the his killing was immortalized somewhat like the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima.

    You would think that at least the GOP candidates would be nagging Obama (and Clinton of course) about not getting al-Zawahiri, even though he was running al Qaeda at the time bin Ladin was done in. The reason could just be lack of name recognition on the public’s part.

    My personal choice for the hunt’s code name: “Is there a doctor in the house?” (droned if affirmative)

  4. link to juancole.com

    A link to another article that was posted here about how an Albanian fighter, who now left the theater of war, saw the rebel movements’ leaders as nothing more than war lords interested in territorial grabs and booty, with Al Nusra being the worst of the bunch. This explains the fight being triggered off by the mere raising of another rival’s flag.

    Also it’s being reported that Russia is withdrawing some or large parts of its military from Syria. Will have to see if Al Qaeda feels further emboldened.
    link to bbc.com

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