Chief of Syrian Revolutionaries Front says al Qaeda is 'not our problem'
Jamal Maarouf, the head of the Western-backed Syrian Revolutionaries Front, said he refuses to fight al Qaeda as it is "not our problem," and admitted to fighting alongside the al Qaeda branch as well as providing weapons to the group. His admission comes in a stunning article excerpted below from The Independent, which interviewed Maarouf in Syria:
Speaking from a safe house on the outskirts of the Turkish town of Antakya, Jamal Maarouf, the leader of the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) told The Independent that the fight against al-Qa'ida was "not our problem" and admitted his fighters conduct joint operations with Jabhat al-Nusra - the official al-Qa'ida branch in Syria.
But while Maarouf and his men were happy to fight Isis, a group of predominantly foreigners, he said he would not go after Jabhat al-Nusra. "It's clear that I'm not fighting against al-Qa'ida. This is a problem outside of Syria's border, so it's not our problem. I don't have a problem with anyone who fights against the regime inside Syria," he said.
Maarouf admits to fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra - one example being the offensive against Isis, whose brutal tactics were deemed too violent even for al-Qa'ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
While Maarouf maintains that their military supplies are too few to share, he cites the battle of Yabroud, against the regime, as an example of how his group shared weapons with Jabhat al-Nusra.
"If the people who support us tell us to send weapons to another group, we send them. They asked us a month ago to send weapons to Yabroud so we sent a lot of weapons there. When they asked us to do this, we do it."
Longtime readers of The Long War Journal shouldn't be surprised at Maarouf's admission. We're reported numerous times on the close working relationship between the Free Syrian Army, from which the Syrian Revolutionaries Front is drawn, and groups such as the Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant and even the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. We've also noted that top Free Syrian Army leaders have praised the Al Nusrah Front as "brothers," and senior Syrian National Coalition leaders have opposed the US government's designation of the Al Nusrah Front as a terrorist group.
Despite this, the US as well as European countries have continued to forge ahead with backing first the Free Syrian Army and now the Syrian Revolutionaries Front.