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Free Syrian Army commander says al Qaeda is 'welcome'



While discussing the recent dustup between al Qaeda's Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and the Free Syrian Army, a senior FSA commander said he has no problems with the al Qaeda group just as long as it doesn't impose sharia, or Islamic law. From Al Jazeera:

Leaders of the Western- and Arab-backed FSA told Al Jazeera that they did not consider the ISIL an enemy, but that they would defend themselves.

"They are welcome if they help us fight the regime," Colonel Abdel Rahman Suweis, a member of the FSA Supreme Military Council, said.

"But if they want to cause strife, impose a new understanding of religion and make Syria another Afghanistan, we will take the necessary measures."

As noted here at Threat Matrix just yesterday, there is little chance that the Free Syrian Army would pursue its grievance with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant over the latter's murder of an FSA commander in Latakia. The 24-hour FSA deadline to turn over the ISIL commander who executed the FSA leader in Latakia has come and gone. Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army, which is demanding that the US and the West pony up weapons, continues to "welcome" the ISIL.



READER COMMENTS: "Free Syrian Army commander says al Qaeda is 'welcome' "

Posted by wrwrrq at July 14, 2013 5:27 PM ET:

Want to know the truth about Assad's Army? They kill civilians in cold blood and enjoy it. Watch these videos and let me know if Assad's opposition deserves to be armed or not.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21eX7OjRDy4&feature=share

Posted by mike merlo at July 15, 2013 7:52 PM ET:

"But if they want to cause strife, impose a new understanding of religion and make Syria another Afghanistan, we will take the necessary measures."

Sounds like Moe seeking to impose discipline & order among his fellow Stooges

Posted by Fred at July 16, 2013 12:52 AM ET:

You neglected to mention the actual story from Al Jazeera- "The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al-Qaeda-linked fighters have clashed again".

There is fighting going on between the FSA and the ISIL- whether it's going to be an important development remains to be seen, but you should at least report that.

I have a high opinion of the LWJ in general, so I'm disappointed in your coverage of this particular story. It is unacceptable to report half the news in order to preserve your slant on the events. I think you're probably right about this, but you should at least keep us updated so we can form our own opinions.

Thank you for your excellent coverage in general. No one covers the war on terror in the depth that you do, and I've been an appreciative reader for years. My disappointment is as a result of my high regard for you and your reporting in general. Keep up the great work!

Posted by mi1400 at July 16, 2013 1:15 AM ET:

FSA are behaving kinda children.. they should know jihad is not some Beach Party.. getting weapons from UAE etc makes them think that it is a cowboy bar or beach party... this mentality has made them loose in lebanon bordering town on hands of pro Iranians... If FSA does not have balls to fight and keep watching their civil brothers die then its better to hand over "Front Desk" to ISIL/AlQaeda ... History has proven that its the infighting that has weakend any cause of any religion .. most crusades too failed because of this.

Posted by Bill Roggio at July 16, 2013 10:24 AM ET:

Fred,

It is a fair criticism. There is plenty of reporting on the tensions and low-level clashes between ISIL & FSA, and I've mentioned it in previous reports. What I've said is that it is unlikely that these clashes are anything more than local dustups between the two (see here for instance: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/07/free_syria_army_issue_to_al_qa.php ).

I felt the more interesting part of this story, which was buried at the end of the Al Jazeera report that I linked to, and which everyone can and should read, is the fact that the ISIL is claiming the FSA is providing arms. It is a stunning claim, and deserved to be highlighted in its own right.

Posted by Bill Roggio at July 16, 2013 10:40 AM ET:

Fred - one additional point. What I've noted that even as all of these reports of clashes between the ISIL and the FSA are reported, senior FSA commanders are still saying that they are more than willing to work with the ISIL & Nusrah and other Islamist groups in Syria. The common narrative is that the FSA is opposed to the jihadists, but when you see how they act (as in joint operations) and listen to what they say, a different picture emerges. In my opinion, this is the real story that is being missed.

Posted by Not Convinced at July 16, 2013 2:00 PM ET:

@wrwrrq

I looked at the link you posted. Are you a jihadi? Because all I see are some animals in a generic military attire, some with blue jeans, beating the hell out of a fighting age male - possibly also wearing military garment then killing him.

The modus operandi and their shouting of "allah is a great murderer" lead me to believe they are jihadis killing a Syrian soldier POW or a civilian not supporting them.

So yes, I would say do not arm those animals. I saw countless of movies on youtube in which they take pride of killing POWs and civilians, beating women, mutilating boys, with the occasional stage-up claiming to be Syrian soldiers doing the deeds.

Assad soldiers are no saints, but the "rebels" are far worse. One side is supported by Iran and Russia and probably China, the other by US and some ME states + UK and France. All in all, all are blood thirsty countries who killed countless innocent lives. I start counting US too in that category since 2008.

You fail.

Posted by Fred at July 16, 2013 7:41 PM ET:

Bill- what you're saying makes sense. I probably would have included a reference to the fight but I understand why you didn't. Thank you for your reply.

Posted by davidp at July 17, 2013 12:49 AM ET:

G'day Bill, I don't see anything in http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/07/2013714102616105456.html or http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/07/free_syria_army_issue_to_al_qa.php that says the FSA has supplied weapons to the ISI. The al Jazerra video said the ISI tried to steal weapons from an FSA store.

There is a potentially self fulfilling prophesy - refuse to support the moderates because you don't want the extremists taking over, and you make the extremists relatively stronger and they take over.
The FSA is in a cleft stick - they can't afford to weaken the fight against Assad to fight the ISI and al Quaeda, so they are vulnerable to extortion by the ISI. The ISI say they want to eradicate FSA components that cooperate with the west.