July 16, 2013

Al-Qaidah affiliated groups’ preemptive plans: kill the FSA leaders, confiscate their arms, and declare an independent Islamic state in northern Syria

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013   No comments

Nusra fighters transporting weapons in Syria, Monday.
By Fawzi Najm*

In a series of gruesome acts designed to be a show of force and to intimidate opponents, Islamist fighters affiliated with al-Qaidah have slaughtered rebel leaders belonging to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and confiscated their large cache of weapons.

Parts of a plan to take over northern Syria were revealed early this week by sources from the FSA to the pan-Arab newspaper, al-sharq al-awsat. It reported on Tuesday that al-Qaidah plans to cleanse northern Syria of FSA rebels and take control of all crossings with Turkey and then declare an Islamic state in northern Syria on the first day of festivities after Ramadan ends.

The news report indicated that the plans were activated last week when two rebels leaders, Fadi al-Qish and his brother, were slaughtered in the town of al-Dana. Two days later, a member of the High Leadership Council of FSA, Kamel Hammami, was killed in the north western province. The group that killed him then raided an FSA weapons' depot and took all the arms that was stored there.

These events alarmed western countries who have been calling for sending more lethal weapons to Syrian rebels. At least the United States and Britain have indicted that they are not prepared to send sophisticated weapons at this point. The strength of the Islamist factions allowed them to confiscate weapons sent to the moderate groups, which are generally less organized. The establishment of an Islamic state in northern Syria will further destabilize Iraq and complicate the peace process that the Turkish government had initiated to solve the Kurdish problem.

* Fawzi Najm is a news translator and monitor; Lebanon.


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