U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups are coordinating with al-Qaeda fronts in defending Aleppo, and other FSA groups — armed with CIA-provided TOW anti-tank missiles — are working together with a terror group designated by the State Department just last week.
That’s from a report filed today by Reuters about the rapidly changing situation in Syria:
In Aleppo, rebels in the Free Syrian Army are sharing operational planning with Jaish al-Fatah, an alliance of Islamist groups that includes the former Syrian wing of al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, in nearby Hama province, FSA groups armed with U.S.-made anti-tank missiles are taking part in a major offensive with the al-Qaeda-inspired Jund al-Aqsa group.
The FSA rebels have deep ideological differences with the jihadists, and have even fought them at times, but say survival is the main consideration.
“At a time when we are dying, it is not logical to first check if a group is classified as terrorist or not before cooperating with it,” said a senior official in one of the Aleppo-based rebel factions. “The only option you have is to go in this direction.”
A top jihadist leader killed in an airstrike on a Jaish al-Fatah meeting earlier this month was Abu Omar Saraqib, who played an active role in al-Qaeda in Iraq’s campaign against the U.S. in Iraq. Presumably, U.S.-backed FSA leaders were also present at the Jaish al-Fatah meeting.
The alliance between the FSA and Jund al-Aqsa in Hama is particularly noteworthy, since the State Department designated Jund al-Aqsa a terrorist organization just last week.
In its September 20 designation, the State Department identified Jund al-Aqsa as a direct threat to U.S. national security:
The Department of State has designated Jund al-Aqsa (JAA) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions on foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States. As a result of this designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which JAA has any interest is blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with JAA.
Jund al-Aqsa is a terrorist group in Northern Syria that primarily operates in Idlib and Hama provinces. Formed in 2012 as a subunit of al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusrah Front (ANF) – a State Department designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) group – JAA has since split and now carries out operations independently. However, despite the split it is still openly aligned with ANF. In March 2015, JAA launched two suicide bombings at checkpoints on the outskirts of Idlib. JAA also carried out the February 2014 massacre in the village of Maan in central Hama province, killing 40 civilians.
Two weeks ago I reported here at PJ Media about FSA units threatening to kill U.S. Special Forces operating in northern Syria, eventually chasing them out of the town of Al-Rai near Aleppo.
Interestingly, President Obama said — at least sixteen times — that there would be no U.S. boots on the ground in Syria.
What exactly is the point of supporting “vetted moderates” if they have no problem working with al-Qaeda — or even, in some cases, the Islamic State — whenever they feel its in their interest to do so?
We provide these “vetted moderate” FSA groups with U.S. heavy weaponry when FSA units themselves are threatening to use those weapons against American troops.
Now there is a very real possibility of those weapons being shared with designated terror groups.
For more than two years I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media on the escalating catastrophe of the Obama administration’s Syria policy:
Sept. 13, 2014: Yet Another U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebel Group Makes Peace with ISIS
July 20, 2016: CIA-Vetted, “Moderate” Syrian Rebels Behead Child Soldier
The ability to affect any positive change in Syria is compromised by the fact that we have no reliable partner in the country — notwithstanding the so-called “vetted moderates” — and a growing likelihood that American troops may be killed without any national strategic purpose.