Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Rebel fighters celebrate with their weapons as they pose in Jisr al-Shughour town, after they took control of the area April 25, 2015.  Islamist insurgents including al-Qaeda's wing in Syria Nusra Front seized the strategic northwestern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour on Saturday, for the first time in the four year conflict. Syrian state media said the army had redeployed to the town's surroundings "to avoid civilian casualties". Opposition fighters and the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said that the town was now totally controlled by the insurgents.   REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1A87H

Syria’s Rebels on Winning Streak—In Alliance With Al Qaeda

You can see from the second half of this, that the second half of the headline is a little sensationalised.

"Western-backed militias saw their arms supplies and cash from Washington reduced significantly or in some cases cut altogether. U.S. officials argued this was performance-related or punishment for their fighting alongside hardcore Islamist brigades and al Nusra. Rebel commanders suspected the cuts were designed to force rebels to leave their brigades and enlist in the U.S.-planned train-and-equip program for the raising of a Syrian rebel proxy force to take on the Islamic State, still widely known as ISIS.
Anger at the West and the Gulf states hasn’t subsided. Rather, it has turned to disdain.
Inspiring this new-found coordination among the rebel militias that have made such gains is the realization that they can’t rely on anyone but themselves. Their attitude, emphasized to me by several rebel commanders and fighters I have spoken with over the past week, is that the World has let them down and so it is up to them now.
Western analysts have given credit for the capture of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughour to ramped-up support from Riyadh, Doha and Ankara. But the commanders here insist their recent gains, including the capture of Idlib, which is only the second provincial capital lost by Assad in this war, are not the result of outside assistance.
“What did we get from them?” sneers a rebel commander with Jaish al Fata, or the Army of Conquest, which is what the new rebel alliance began calling itself on March 28. “The Turks speak a thousand lies. Most of our weapons are those we seized from government forces or arms that were supplied by the Gulf a year and half ago. We got nothing from the Gulf or Turkey ahead of this offensive. These are our victories, no one else’s.”
Is it possible, likely or credible that Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra will split with its parent organization? The success of the offensive in Idlib is adding impetus to the debate within Jabhat al Nusra about precisely that subject. Several rebel commanders and Syrian opposition figures say it is highly likely that al Nusra will soon break apart formally, roughly along the lines of local vs. foreign fighters, with the former opting out of the infamous terrorist affiliation.
“I think it will happen soon,” says Muhamed Nabih Osman, who oversees a charitable association for former Assad prisoners. “You have to understand that al Nusra consists of two very different parts and that one part, mostly local fighters, are not interested in global jihad.”

“The West is living in detached world of philosophical ideas,” the former engineer says, speaking slowly and methodically. “They want us to conform to their ideas but we can disagree with them without being extremists. Thousands of people are getting killed and they are worried about what happens after Assad and they want to teach us about democracy and women’s rights. They don’t provide safe havens or no-fly zones for the civilians who are being slaughtered in droves. All they worry about is who controls Syria after. Syrians will.” "

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