News / Middle East

    Syrian Rebels: US-Led Strikes Bolster Assad

    • Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, Oct. 3, 2014.
    • A man inspects damage at an oil refinery and a gas station that were targeted by what activists said were U.S.-led air strikes, in the town of Tel Abyad of Raqqa governorate, near the border with Turkey, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • Syrian Kurdish refugees cover themselves from rain after crossing into Turkey from the Syrian border town Kobani, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • A Syrian Kurdish refugee woman waits for transportation after crossing into Turkey from the Syrian border town Kobani, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • Syrian Kurdish refugees wait to cross into Turkey from the Syrian border town Kobani, near the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • Lawmakers debate before Turkey's parliament to approve a motion that gives the government new powers to launch military incursions into Syria and Iraq and to allow foreign forces to use its territory for possible operations against the Islamic State group
    • Antiwar protesters demonstrate in front of the Turkish Parliament in Ankara, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • Families of Saif Thebian and Mohammed Hussein Yousuf, who were kidnapped by Islamic State militants and the Al-Nusra front, hold their portraits of during a demonstration in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen talks with journalists during the training of Kurdish peshmerga fighters with anti-tank guns at the Infantry School of the German Federal Armed Forces Bundeswehr in Hammelburg, Germany, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • Kurdish peshmerga fighters practice with the anti-tank gun MILAN at the Infantry School of the German Federal Armed Forces Bundeswehr in Hammelburg, Germany, Oct. 2, 2014.
    • British Prime Minister David Cameron meets pilots, engineers and logistic support staff in front of a Tornado GR4 at RAF Akrotiri base, Cyprus, Oct. 2, 2014.

    Moderate Syrian rebel field commanders said the U.S.-led air offensive in Syria is helping President Bashar al-Assad.

    Abu Muhammad said he disapproves of the U.S. strategy in Syria.

    He warned that the U.S.-led coalition against the jihadists of the Islamic State group is bolstering Assad.

    Muhammad said the Syrian president has taken the opportunity of the coalition airstrikes to refocus his forces, shifting some of them from eastern Syria where they were fighting the jihadists, and reinforcing his own offensive against moderate and Islamist rebels in the key city of Aleppo.

    He said Syrian government airstrikes on Aleppo the past two days have increased in tempo and are terrifying.

    Had defected

    Muhammad, a former colonel in the Syrian army who said he defected after his superiors ordered him to shoot civilians, is now a top commander in the Syrian Revolutionaries Front.

    The SRF is an Islamist brigade that has fought alongside the al-Nusra Front - the al-Qaida affiliate also targeted by American warplanes.

    Muhammad said the rebels are at a disadvantage now in Aleppo.

    Once Syria’s prosperous commercial capital, Aleppo has been the scene of some of the most vicious fighting of the nearly four-year-long civil war, and about half of it is under rebel control.

    But since recapturing Homs, Syria’s third largest city, several months ago, Assad has redoubled his efforts to regain total control of Aleppo, the loss of which would be devastating for the rebels.

    Muhammad said both Islamic State fighters and Assad are taking positions from the rebels.

    Abu Abdullah, another commander with the SRF, said the weapons the Islamic State group has make it difficult to fight the militants.

    When the jihadists launced an offensive in Iraq several months ago, Islamic State militants captured tanks and other equipment from fleeing Iraqi units around Mosul. Those weapons are now being used against the rebels in Syria.

    Chechens, Gulf Arabs among jihadists

    Abdullah said people joining as fighters for the Islamic State group are coming from all over the world, but the field commanders for the jihadist group tend to be Chechens or Gulf Arabs.

    Another rebel fighter from a brigade called the Lions of Tawhid also said he is disappointed that the American-led coalition is not targeting Assad forces.

    Assad is the head of the snake - and should be cut off, the rebel fighter said.

    U.S. officials said their first priority is to degrade and defeat the Islamic State group in both Iraq and Syria as it represents a global threat.

    The Obama administration is planning to screen 5,000 Syrian rebels and train them in Saudi Arabia.

    However, some rebels said they are not interested in joining such a force as it would take them away from the battlefield.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Hans from: Europe
    October 05, 2014 2:12 PM
    Does anyone in the US have the moral courage to denounce Saudi Arabia and Qatar who created these monsters called ISIS? Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the state sponsors of global terrorism. Time to call a spade a spade!

    Asad is a secular leader and seems an angel in comparison to the despotic terror kings of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    Shame on the US government for supporting Saudi Arabia and Qatar!

    by: rob from: NT
    October 04, 2014 6:05 PM
    I think the coalition should stay out of it,its probably hard but I think we should. The more we try to help the more complicated it ends up.

    by: MICHAEL from: KENYA
    October 03, 2014 2:53 PM
    I would urge Mr Obama to continue fight against terror cases around the globe ...

    by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston, USA
    October 03, 2014 2:43 PM
    Every strategic act that does have positive and negative aspects. Ours led air-strikes in Iraq and Syria are targeted against the IS positions to weaken and destroy it. That does not mean it's going to bolster the infandus dictatorial regime of Assad in any manner. May be, Assad regime may extract some mileages out of the coalition air-strikes - to remove its focus of reinforcing its ground and air forces to fight against the moderate rebel units and consolidate the areas where the strength of the rebel units is consolidated now.

    It's sure the coalition air-strikes give a sigh of relief to the Assad regime as the coalition air-strikes doing the same jobs like the regime air force that could have been deployed to engaging the IS militia. ........ Taking some 5000 selected rebels to Saudi Arabia to train them as per right defense line is a strategy. If the rebel fighters cannot leave their battle fronts, that does raise a problem for training the rebels. Those who are not acquainted with the Syrian battle terrains; they're just like novicers...... it would be difficult to train them first and then to acquaint such ones to the rebel units to join in Syria.

    It's possible the Syrian rebel units should send their people to Saudi Arabia to be trained and then they do join the respective units. ....... Of course, it's a clumsy process that coalition does advocate. Why the coalition cannot take the ground forces risk of its own? By sheer, tactical politico-diplomatic moves, it's necessary to make the Assad regime on wrong foot; and then to rap it in terms of the coalition ground forces operation in straight way.

    by: mr from: new york
    October 03, 2014 10:07 AM
    Great. Assad is far better than the rebel .At least he has a principal and rebel do not
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    October 05, 2014 8:12 PM
    For you Tom from Canada. Assad is so great and nationalist unlike the so-called rebels, militias and ISIS. He is at least secular, educated in UK (optometrist), nationalist, socialist, respectful, and the majority of Syrians like him. Trust me I am Syrian from there and I know how Syria functions. I don't know why Western nations don't like him even from the early 2000s. In a nutshell, in Syria, democracy won't happen; it's either a dictatorship or an Islamic States and Al-Qaeda, so your better choose one of the above. So for all Western nations (Christian nations) at least Assad doesn't pose any threat or menace to you nor wants to destroy Christianity, or attack Israel (your ally) or your liberal Western values like the rebels, Nusrah Front (please google it), and ISIS. He at least spoiled the Christians and protected their churches as well as all minorities and ethnicities across Syria and most of the Syrian Christians are educated, pro-Assad and are in the Syrian Arab Army. Proudly, he protected and liberated Maaloula (an 80 km village from Damascus that still speaks Aramaic; Jesus's language) from Al Qaeda in April 2014. So God blesses him and blesses the Syrian Arab Army. So for you and all Canucks (conservative or liberals) you need to change your attitude and mind towards Assad and please learn and think positive!
    In Response

    by: Tom from: Canada
    October 04, 2014 9:56 AM
    what kind of principle does Assad have? you must be a tomb-kisser, hezbolah lover
    In Response

    by: Mason from: chicago
    October 03, 2014 3:30 PM
    All you have to do go on Google type Raqqa you will see the images by the rebel.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    October 03, 2014 11:46 AM
    You are right, The so-called moderate rebels are in fact incapable groups of terrorists while the most capable ones are the ISIS. But birds of the same feather fly together, they are all terrorists so they are of the same nature. Assad may not be very democratic but he has to be so because if he did not Syria would become a terrorist state.

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