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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora