News / Middle East

New Front Opens in Syria as Rebels Say Al-Qaida Attack Means War

This Tuesday, July 9, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels running during heavy clashes with Syrian soldiers loyal to Syrian Presi
This Tuesday, July 9, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian rebels running during heavy clashes with Syrian soldiers loyal to Syrian Presi
Reuters
Syrian rebels said on Friday the assassination of one of their top commanders by al Qaida-linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
 
Rivalries have been growing between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Islamists, whose smaller but more effective forces control most of the rebel-held parts of northern Syria more than two years after pro-democracy protests became an uprising.
 
“We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us,” a senior FSA commander said on condition of anonymity after members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant killed Kamal Hamami on Thursday.
 
“We are going to wipe the floor with them,” he said.
 
Hamami, also known by his nom de guerre, Abu Bassir al-Ladkani, is one of the top 30 figures on the FSA's Supreme Military Command. His killing highlights how the West's vision of a future, democratic Syria is unraveling.
 
Assad appeared close to defeat a year ago when rebels  killed top officials in a bomb attack and pushed deep into Damascus.
 
Now, with military and financial support from Russia and Iran, he has pushed the rebels back to the outskirts of the capital and put them on the defensive in the south while radical Islamists assert control over the north.
 
The FSA commander said the al Qaida-linked militants had warned FSA rebels that there was “no place” for them where Hamami was killed in Latakia province, a northern rural region of Syria bordering Turkey where Islamist groups are powerful.
 
Other opposition sources said the killing followed a dispute between Hamami's forces and the Islamic State over control of a strategic checkpoint in Latakia and would lead to fighting.
 
Vaccum of power
 
The two sides have previously fought together from time to time, but the Western and Arab-backed FSA, desperate for greater firepower, has recently tried to distance itself to allay U.S. fears any arms it might supply could reach al Qaeda.
 
Louay Mekdad, FSA Supreme Command Political Coordinator, said Abu Ayman al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State's Emir of the coastal region, personally shot dead Hamami and his brother at the roadblock.
 
He said a fighter who was traveling with them was set free to rely the message that the Islamic State considers the FSA heretics and that the Supreme Command is now an al Qaida target.
 
“If these people came to defend the Syrian revolution and not help the Assad regime, then they have to hand over the killers,” Mekdad said, adding that the bodies of the two men were still with the al Qaida affiliate.
 
The FSA has been trying to build a logistics network and reinforce its presence across Syria as the U.S. administration considers sending weapons, in part to present a bulwark against units it considers “terrorist organizations.”
 
But with funding from Gulf-based individuals, Islamist brigades have taken a leading role in rebel-held regions of Syria, filling the vacuum of power by setting up religious courts and governance bodies.
 
The FSA -- a mixture of loosely-affiliated brigades -- is accused by locals of looting and has not been able to present a unified front to sideline hardline units who favor an Islamic caliphate over pluralist democracy.
 
Some frustrated FSA fighters say they have joined Islamist groups and moderate and hardline fighters sometimes buy and sell weapons from each other.
 
The anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said the FSA and the Islamic State have had violent exchanges in several areas of Syria over the past few weeks, showing growing antagonism between Assad's foes.
 
“Last Friday, the Islamic State killed an FSA rebel in Idlib province and cut his head off. There have been attacks in many provinces,” the Observatory's leader Rami Abdelrahman said.
 
Syria's conflict turned violent in the face of a crackdown on protests. Civil war ensued with disparate rebel groups taking up arms and the Observatory says more than 100,000 people have been killed.
 
U.S. congressional committees are holding up plans to arm the rebels because of fears that such deliveries will not be decisive and the arms might end up in the hands of Islamist militants.
 
Syria's opposition bemoans the delay, and repeated on Thursday assurances that the arms will not go to Islamist militants.

You May Like

Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Unlikely Before Monday

Tension builds over possible indictment of white police officer in shooting death of black teen More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current Russian-backed rebels’ fight in east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
July 12, 2013 10:37 AM
The problems of Syria is escalating every day from protests, civil disobedience, unrest, conflict, civil war, war and now terrorism by al-Qaida. It is too late for the US to do anything to reduce the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians, much more injured, millions of refugees and much more internally displaced persons, and destruction homes and infra-structure of Syria.

The US help delayed is equal to US help denied. Any one winning in Syrian conflict will not be able to administer the country in peace for a long time to come. One generation of Syrians are totally lost. The problems in Syria is the failure of humanity, and not just the failure of the Syrians.

In Response

by: Anonymous
July 13, 2013 1:19 AM
The west needs to arm the Syrian people and the FSA as soon as possible. It is disgusting it has taken this long.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid