In this New York Times article on the influx of foreign fighters into Syria (more than 6,000 foreign fighters are now estimated to be fighting with jihadist groups) is a report of a Free Syrian Army commander celebrating the capture of the Minnigh airport in Aleppo with a leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al Qaeda affiliate. The ISIL is known to have led the charge to take control of the airport after FSA units failed to capture it during an eight-month siege. The video of the celebration is reproduced above.
After the battle, Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi, the head of the United States-backed opposition’s Aleppo military council, appeared in a video alongside Abu Jandal, a leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
In camouflage, Colonel Okaidi offered thanks to “our brothers al-Muhajireen wal Ansar and others,” adding: “We’re here to kiss every hand pressed on the trigger.” He then ceded the floor to Abu Jandal and a mix of jihadist and Free Syrian Army leaders, who stood together, each praising his men, like members of a victorious basketball team.
We have reported numerous times that the Free Syrian Army actively colludes with al Qaeda’s branches, the ISIL and the Al Nusrah Front for the People in the Levant. The report of the joint celebration in Aleppo is just further evidence that the Free Syrian Army conducts activities with al Qaeda in Syria. Inexplicably, the US is continuing with a plan to arm the FSA.
The NYT article also contains another tidbit. Note that while talking with the ISIL’s Abu Jandal, the FSA colonel also thanks the “al-Muhajireen wal Ansar,” or Muhajireen (Emigrants) Army. This group is led by a Chechen commander known as Omar al Chechen, and is a mix of fighters from the Caucasus and Europe as well as Syrian Islamists. It seems that the FSA colonel is indicating that the Muhajireen Army is part of the ISIL. If true, this certainly wouldn’t be an earth-shattering revelation, but it is interesting nonetheless.
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