Are we stuck in a time warp? For years it has been patently obvious that there are no “moderate” forces among the Syrian “opposition.” Even the New York Times acknowledged this, almost four years ago: “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.” (New York Times, April 28, 2013) Nothing has changed since then.
No actual “moderates” are named here, and that may be because of the embarrassments of the past. Take the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (please): “We have a Free Syrian Army and a moderate opposition that we have steadily been working with that we have vetted,” said Obama in September 2014. In July 2013, Free Syrian Army fighters entered the Christian village of Oum Sharshouh and began burning down houses and terrorizing the population, forcing 250 Christian families to flee the area. Worthy News reported that just two days later, Free Syrian Army rebels “targeted the residents of al-Duwayr/Douar, a Christian village close to the city of Homs and near Syria’s border with Lebanon….Around 350 armed militants forcefully entered the homes of Christian families who were all rounded-up in the main square of the village and then summarily executed.” And in September 2013, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Free Syrian Army as “a real moderate opposition,” the FSA took to the Internet to post videos of its attack on the ancient Syrian Christian city of Maaloula, one of the few places where Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.
This UK misadventure will turn out no better.
“UK to train ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition forces to target IS,” by Arj Singh, The Scotsman, December 15, 2016:
British military personnel have arrived in the Middle East to train “moderate” Syrian opposition forces as they attempt to open up a second front around Islamic State (IS) stronghold Raqqa.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the Syrian forces were being trained in infantry, medical and explosive hazard awareness skills.
He spoke ahead of a London summit with defence ministers from the coalition of countries fighting IS, also known as Daesh, in Iraq and Syria.
It comes after a ceasefire between Syrian rebels and the Russian-backed Bashar Assad regime in Aleppo broke down, threatening plans to evacuate civilians amid reports of pro-government troops executing non-combatants.
At the meeting, Sir Michael will reveal that he has agreed to “surge” the number of data recovery experts to exploit material obtained as IS forces are defeated or flee from Mosul in Iraq.
Britain’s top commander in the region, Major General Rupert Jones, said recently that plans revealing thousands of IS plots to attack Europe were discovered after the terrorists were driven out of Manbij, northern Syria.
Sir Michael hopes the extra experts will be able to exploit data and technical equipment seized from IS to help track UK militants, win the battle on the ground, better understand the militants’ structure and leadership, and build a case against fighters who have committed atrocities….