Why 'Moderate' Syrian Rebels Remain Deaf to Washington's 'Orders'

© AFP 2023 / RAMI AL-SAYEDMember of the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam and the Ahrar ash-Sham (Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant) group
Member of  the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam and the Ahrar ash-Sham (Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant) group - Sputnik International
Evidence on the ground shows that Washington is completely unable to pressure the so-called Syrian "moderate" rebels it backs to split from the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.

Jobar, a district of Damascus controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra militants. (File) - Sputnik International
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It has become clear that the reason why Washington has failed to coerce the so-called Syrian "moderate" rebels to detach from al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front is because US policymakers are incapable of controlling the fighters they are backing.

At the same time, however, the Obama administration stubbornly rejects designating those intermingled with the al-Qaeda branch as terrorists.

Moreover, Washington has recently asked Moscow not to target al-Nusra Front because there are moderate opposition members next to it. The US and Russia agreed that Washington would separate "normal" opposition from terrorists in the region following the implementation of a ceasefire in Syria. Months have passed but nothing has changed.

In the past few days terrorists have intensified their military activity around the Syrian city of Aleppo. Remarkably, Ahrar ash-Sham and Jaish al-Islam, which are still regarded as "moderate rebels" by the West, have been repeatedly spotted as the most active participants of the attacks, according to the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation at the Hmeymim airbase.

Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra members lookout for warplanes loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad on Al-Khazan frontline of Khan Sheikhoun, northern Idlib province May 17, 2014. - Sputnik International
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Surprisingly, Washington has not raised a finger to stop the US-backed fighters.

The unpleasant truth is that the US does not have any leverage over "moderate" militants, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof revealed in his latest interview with RT.

"Once again it demonstrates the lack of any kind of control or influence, at least at the minimum that the US might have on these groups," Maloof told the media outlet.

Paradoxically, despite their brutal actions and colluding with al-Nusra Front, Jaish al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham remain members of the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee representing the Syrian opposition in Geneva.

In late April Alwaght news website shed some light on the groups' origins.

"The Islamic Ahrar ash-Sham group, as it calls itself, is considered as one of the armed groups in Syria that takes up Salafism as its ideological basis. It rose in the beginning of the Syrian crisis on November 11, 2011, after the unification of four Islamist Syrian movements: Ahrar ash-Sham Battalions, al-Fajr Islamic Movement, Jamaat al-Talia al-Islamiya and al-Iman Fighting Brigades," the media outlet narrated.

Fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front drive in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (File) - Sputnik International
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Ahrar ash-Sham is well-known for its "outstanding relations" with al-Nusra Front. Although the group claims its ideology differs from that of the al-Qaeda branch, it is overtly pushing ahead with its project to create a Salafist Islamic state.

In its turn, Jaish al-Islam "is a result of a mix of over 55 armed factions." The group was formed after the outbreak of the Syrian crisis aimed at fighting against Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian Arab Army.

Interestingly enough, Jaish al-Islam never hid its partnership with al-Nusra Front.

Alwaght noted that the group's former Commander-in-Chief Zahran Alloush used to say that "al-Nusra Front is a fighting faction in Syria with which we [Jaish al-Islam] worked in an array of battles and we observed their practice, jihad and diligence, and we hail al-Nusra Front and do not consider them Khawarij."

Investigative journalist Willy van Damme calls attention to the fact that the so-called moderate rebels and al-Nusra Front have been cooperating for about five years. Since the beginning of the Syrian turmoil they have been fighting against the legitimate Syrian government.

"To think that they would split from al-Nusra is dreaming," the investigative journalist told RT.

According to Alwaght, Washington attempts to use these groups "as political trump cards," including for its own interests in Syria.  

To be more precise, the US policymakers are exploiting these so-called "moderate" thugs as a battering ram against the government of Bashar al-Assad and his Syrian Arab Army. However, once the Salafist groups take over Damascus, Washington will be completely unable to shape the future of the Syrian state since it lacks any kind of control over the militants. 

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