News / Middle East

    Islamic Extremists Infiltrate Syrian Opposition

    Meredith Buel
    As the conflict rages in Syria, regional analysts say Islamic extremist groups increasingly are infiltrating the opposition forces fighting the government. This could radicalize Syrian rebels, causing significant problems for efforts to end the conflict and stabilize the country.

    An amateur video shows fighters with Ahar al-Sham, an Islamic jihadist group, that appear to be attacking a Syrian military personnel carrier.

     A fierce gun battle erupts.

    Another video by the group shows an explosion under a Syrian tank.

    Evidence, regional political analysts say, that groups linked to al-Qaida are involved in the Syrian conflict.
     “We have seen videos come from the opposition forces of rebels with the black banner of al-Qaida,” said Malou Innocent of the Cato Institute. “We have heard Iraqi officials say that al-Qaida elements have been pouring over their border into Syria.”

    Damascus long supported terrorist organizations within Syria, and they have now turned on the government.

    Syria was a transit point for al-Qaida militants fighting coalition forces during the Iraq war.
    Regional analyst Elizabeth O'Bagy said there is a small, but growing, jihadist presence.

     “The logistical networks that were facilitated by the Syrian regime in the past are now working in the reverse direction, funneling al-Qaida in Iraq and Islamic State of Iraq operatives into Syria,” she said.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used the threat of jihadists to build support among the minority Alawite and Christian communities.

    Daniel Newman, who heads the Arabic Department at Britain’s Durham University, said the arrival of extremists plays into that narrative.

    “And so ironically this is, to this day, being used by the regime, particularly in their dealings with the Christian minority. 'You see this is what will happen. You see, it is what we said all along - these are Islamists and you will suffer under the yoke of the Islamists.'”

    The U.S. says it will not arm the rebels because weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

    Analysts say predominantly Sunni Muslim countries in the region, however, are providing money and munitions. And the increase in radical Islamists could have serious implications.

    “It also poses significant problems for Syria’s future stability in a post-Assad future,” said O’Bagy. “If there are radical elements that are able to gain a foothold, they could seriously hurt any form of a democratic vision for what comes next.”

    As the Syrian government increases its use of warplanes and heavy weapons against rebels and civilians, there are fears the opposition will become more radical and that is likely to prolong the conflict.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    September 22, 2012 2:52 PM
    It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict the end result of the Syrian crisis. This is due to the facts on the ground with evidence of outlawed militia groups taking the driving seat. This is not what fighters of the free syrian army should be aiming at. It is rather taking the whole country into bondage, to create another muslim brotherhood, taliban, haqqanni network, el shabaab, boko haram etc when the number is already unmanageable. The US and Europe should reappraise their stand on this issue to find a better compromise to cater for the interest of those who see Bashir al Assad as their godfather to protect them against these islamist groups that will surely swallow them up if allowed to have their spring.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora