‘Moderate’ Syrian Revolutionaries Front continues to support al Qaeda

An article in yesterday’s New York Times titled “US Pins Hope on Syrian Rebels with Loyalties All Over the Map” highlights the fact that President Obama’s recently declared strategy against the Islamic State depends on empowering Syrian rebels to take control once the Islamic State is driven out. This plan leaves the US “dependent on a diverse group riven by infighting, with no shared leadership and with hard-line Islamists as its most effective fighters,” the article observes, and proceeds to elaborate on the difficulties of working with the various groups and even knowing what their allegiances are.

The article concludes with a brief focus on one likely prospect:

Some rebels appear ready to join the fight against ISIS [Islamic State]. A video posted online this week showed Jamal Maarouf, a rebel commander in northern Syria, addressing a gathering of hundreds of fighters. “God willing, we will fight two states: the state of Bashar al-Assad, the unjust tyrant, and the state of Baghdadi, the aggressor tyrant,” he said, referring to the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The only problem with this example of a possible US ally in the fight in Syria is that Maarouf has already stated that he has no problem with al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, the Al Nusrah Front, and has admitted to sharing weapons with it. And this example of cooperation between “moderate” and radical Islamist groups is not an isolated one; see Threat Matrix report, Desperately seeking moderate Syrian rebels.

As we pointed out here at Threat Matrix back in April, Maarouf told an interviewer from The Independent:

“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.” 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.”

The cooperation between Maarouf’s Syrian Revolutionaries Front and powerful Islamist jihadist groups such as Al Nusrah and the Islamic Front is ongoing. In recent weeks, the Syrian Revolutionaries Front fought alongside Al Nusrah and the Islamic Front in the takeover of the Quneitra crossing into the Israel-occupied Golan Heights. During the takeover, 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers were abducted by Al Nusrah. A video posted by the Syrian Revolutionaries Front shows its fighters manning the crossing, according to The Line of Steel:

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  • Tony says:

    Irrespective of the co-mingling of these rebel groups and Al-Nusrah the fact is that these people want to kill IS militants, Hezbollah and members of the Assad regime and it is sufficient reason to support them. Can they achieve victory? No! But it keeps jihadi groups dividend and Assad’s regime and its Hezbollah allies harassed.
    What I find infuriating about Obama’s plan is that it does not contemplate support for Syrian Kurdish rebels fighting IS which in my view is a far better and rational approach to fighting IS than what is talked about which is unlikely to achieve a dismantling of the IS “caliphate”. absent some ground forces. What we need is some version of the initial 2001 Afghan campaign which other than the Surge and drone strikes is the most effective things we have done against AQ.

  • What I find depressing about Obama’s plan is that it reflects no change in U.S. foreign policy’s eagerness to intervene in the affairs of other nations, nor does it reflect any recognition of the limits of military power.

    The U.S. has lost every one of its major foreign wars since Viet Nam, with the exception of Libya, which went from the highest standard of living in Africa to a failed state. Some success! Common to all those failures was the lack of popular support within the nations we invaded, a condition that already exists in both Iraq and Syria.

    As a Viet Nam War combat veteran, I deeply resent politicians who make their decisions to send others to kill and be killed based on nothing more than war fever and public opinion polls.

    ISIL is a regional problem. It should be no concern of the U.S. before it arrives on our shores.

  • Greg Leichty says:

    Nonexistent moderates. The YPG areas of Rojava with 50,000 fighters should count for something. They are democratic, secular, and so forth. The Turks don’t like them because they see them as allied to the PKK, but they have pretty much fought ISIS and only ISIS and they have been successful. Look up the Rojava Report.

  • Z says:

    Islam forbids all private armies, Militia or Militant groups which are not part and parcel of the internationally recognized government of the country concerned. This will include ISIS or any rebel or Militant group(s) etc. Such groups are operating against the overall interest of Muslim world. Their primary aim seems to capture territories and / or natural resources. They are neither following Qur’an nor the teachings of the last Prophet. They should read Qur’an, 6:159 and once they understand they won’t fight with each other. If still not clear they should be told to read the last sermon that was delivered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on his pilgrimage (Haj). If Muslims do not want to follow guidance from their own religion, no one will be able to help them. God help only those who want to themselves. They need to Unite and Rule, Not Divide and Rule.

  • blert says:

    Don’t conjure up rules that none of the fanatics work by.
    Muslims don’t respect the opinions of infidels of any stripe at any time; they’re infidels.
    The only rule book flows from Mo’ — it’s as simple as that.
    I’ve yet to see an Islamist band that is not following in the theological footsteps of Mo’.
    All of the unlawful warfare conducted in his name is entirely consistent with his style and teachings. Mo’ was a brigand with a creed.
    It’s impossible to fault these modern fanatics for deviating from the prophet, for they are religiously following his instruction.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram