Obama’s hope to do anything of substance in Syria took another severe blow yesterday as the U.S.-backed and armed Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) struck a peace deal with ISIS, according to both Arabic and English language news reports.
The SRF had only a few months ago been deemed by the U.S. foreign policy establishment as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”
Now AFP reports:
Syrian rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have agreed a non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ceasefire deal was agreed between ISIS and moderate and Islamist rebels in Hajar al-Aswad, south of the capital.
Under the deal, “the two parties will respect a truce until a final solution is found and they promise not to attack each other because they consider the principal enemy to be the Nussayri regime.”
Nussayri is a pejorative term for the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
According to media reports, other groups joining the ceasefire with ISIS include Liwa Ahrar Turkman al-Golan, Liwa Hittin and Liwa al-Umma al-Wahida.
When seeking U.S. heavy weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles, SRF commander Jamal Maroof was full of bravado, declaring war against ISIS. In May, McClatchy reported that SRF and other “vetted moderate rebel” groups had received TOW missiles from the U.S. and posted videos of their use.
But as soon as weapons were being delivered to Maroof’s SRF forces, he was giving interviews to Western media making clear that “al-Qaeda is not our problem.”
A May 2014 report by Jenan Moussa of Al-Aan notes that Maroof runs SRF in a cave with his three wives and children:
During that interview where Maroof talks about receiving U.S. military aid and his soldiers receiving U.S. training, there is one curious artifact in the background, as you’ll see in the photo on the next page.
The SRF’s ceasefire with ISIS puts yet another nail in the coffin of the claims by the U.S. foreign policy establishment that there are “vetted moderate” Syrian “rebels” that we can rely upon.
As I’ve reported here at PJ Media over the past week, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army is operating openly with ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda affiliate, in certain areas. I also noted an L.A. Times article last Sunday where a reporter traveling with fighters from the U.S.-backed and armed Harakat al-Hazm, one of the first groups to receive U.S. heavy weapons, was told that the group fights alongside Jabhat al-Nusra. And earlier this week I reported on a statement by a Free Syrian Army commander admitting his group is in an alliance with ISIS fighting near the border with Lebanon.
As Congress takes up a bill to fund Obama’s plan to arm and train so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian “rebels,” even some analysts are beginning to admit that finding the right allies in Syria will be difficult. With the State Department’s disastrous record so far of identifying “vetted moderate rebel” groups who refuse to ally with al-Qaeda and ISIS, and ISIS leaders openly bragging about the U.S. arming and training rebels groups that have now defected to ISIS, some prudent caution on the part of Congress is in order before throwing more money and weapons into Syria and Iraq.
With the administration panicked about the implications of the reported SRF peace deal, the SRF has published — in English — a statement denying a peace deal.
How much of these denials is fact vs. carefully calculated fiction intended to forestall Congress voting down more aid to the Syrian “rebels” this week remains to be seen.
This, however, doesn’t address the fact that the SRF was reported by the Wall Street Journal back in May to be openly cooperating with Jabhat al-Nusra.