News / Middle East

Experts: Syria's Foreign Fighters Negatively Impacting Anti-Assad Fight

Experts: Syria's Foreign Fighters Negatively Impacting Anti-Assad Fighti
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
Kokab Farshori
March 27, 2014 8:14 PM
International efforts to stop the fighting in Syria have failed to end the conflict, as rebel fighters and the Assad government battle on with no immediate victory in sight. The involvement of foreign militants in the Syrian conflict complicates the situation even more. VOA’s Kokab Farshori takes a look at where the foreign fighters come from and the impact they are having.
Kokab Farshori
International efforts to stop the fighting in Syria have failed to end the conflict, as rebel fighters and the Assad government battle on with no immediate victory in sight. The involvement of foreign militants in the Syrian conflict complicates the situation even more.

Conflict in Syria has entered its fourth year, and the United Nations estimates the fighting has left more than 100,000 people dead. While the Assad regime is trying to crush the rebellion, the rebel groups are fighting back with support from much of the Syrian population and also from external backing - including some foreign fighters who go to Syria to fight alongside the rebels.

​These foreign fighters come from several different countries says Daniel Serwer, a scholar at the Middle East Institute and professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

"They are mainly from the Middle East. But there are some from Europe and even a few from the United States. And you have some influx from Pakistan that is in the news," he said  "It is serious problem."

Even though these foreigners are fighting against the Assad regime that Washington heavily criticizes for its alleged human right violations, Serwer says these radicalized millitants are of great concern to the U.S. as well.
 
"It is clear that Syria, or parts of Syria, risk becoming a haven for extremists, and they will use that haven as a platform eventually to launch attacks against the United States," he said. This has happened with Yemen, this has happened with Pakistan, and this has happened with Afghanistan."

Experts also say a lot of Syrians are hesitant to join the anti-Assad forces because of the presence of foreign fighters among their ranks. Fragmentation among the rebel groups benefits the Assad regime, says Leila Hilal, an expert on Syria with Washington’s New America Foundation.

"The opposition that is fighting against the Assad regime is factionalized, is fragmented and increasingly so," she said. "We have something in the number of 5,000 different fighting brigades. So, without the unification of the opposition fighters, it is very hard to mount to a successful campaign."

Peace talks between the Assad regime and rebel forces have not produced any positive results. And Halal points out the crisis in Ukraine has further diminished  hopes for a diplomatic solution of the crisis.

"The impact that the Crimea situation is having on Syria is that it is undermining the ability of Russia and the U.S. to work together toward a diplomatic solution for Syria," she said,

The crisis in Syria has now caused more than two-and-a-half million people to flee the country and become refugees. Experts stress that further delay in finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict will only aggravate the humanitarian crisis.

You May Like

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: t_guys from: Slovenia
March 28, 2014 4:39 AM
On which basis do you state that "much of the population" supports the rebels? Don't you think that a national service Army still fighting hard is a sign of strength for Syrian regime?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs