What's Behind Rebel-Qaeda Tensions in Syria?

(NOW-Lebanon) Michael Weiss - Last week was a busy one for internecine warfare among Syrian rebel groups. Yet according to Charles Lister, an analyst with IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London, "all claims of fighting have come from anti-Islamist sources and have since largely been denied or proven inaccurate by influential and well-placed sources on the ground....Fundamentally, this recent flare-up in rhetoric appears to have been a media campaign pushed by the moderate political opposition outside Syria." So desperate are these forces to receive long-promised arms from the U.S. that they are now trying to exploit real or imagined tensions on the ground to help expedite Washington's rebel aid program. Unfortunately, this strategy is backfiring. In recent months, the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra have gained at the expense of the moderates. In May, moderate rebel commanders throughout Syria told the Guardian that the Western-backed opposition had lost "a quarter or more of their strength" to the al-Qaeda affiliate. Some 3,000 rebels had gone over to al-Nusra because of the FSA's lack of weapons and ammunition.

2013-07-23 00:00:00

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