Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) -, Rebels fighting against
the Assad regime in the northwest of Syria have found an exceptional
ally: al-Qaeda and hundreds of Islamists from foreign countries. The most
representative states are Iraq,
Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan. But there are also
members from Russia (Chechnya), Ukraine,
Mali and Somalia. The
presence of the extremists is confirmed by several videos that have appeared on
jihadist websites that show men with covered faces, lauding the holy war,
brandishing machine guns, bombs and waving the black flag of al-Qaeda. In a
film that appeared a few days ago on Youtube
a voiceover shouts "we're forming cells of suicide bombers to continue the
holy war in the name of God."
To date, the opposition has denied the presence of Islamic extremist groups
among its ranks, but according to experts, the borders with Turkey and Iraq have become veritable
collection centers for militants from around the Sunni Muslim world. Some have
described the Syrian scenario as a "magnet" for al-Qaeda and its
affiliates. Witnesses say that hundreds of foreigners have come to Bab al-Hawa checkpoint
on the Turkish border to support the Free Syrian Army in the battle for Aleppo. What drives these
people across Asia and North Africa, is not a
desire for democracy, but the exemplary punishment of "nusayrs"
(heretics) a derogatory name for the Alawites, the Shiite sect of Bashar
The intensifying of battles in the northern province
of Aleppo has also attracted hundreds of
jihadists from Iraq.
This is confirmed by a recent Iraqi government survey which finds that the
militants operating on Syrian territory are part of the same group that claimed
responsibility for bombings that have shaken Iraq in recent months. "Our
lists of suspects - says Izzar al-Shahbandar, advisor to the Prime Minister -
have the same names - they match those of the Syrian authorities."
Pictures that appeared on some forums with links to Al-Qaeda also show
groups of veterans of the war in Libya. According to Lebanon news agency Naharnet, some show men dressed in black brandishing a
banner that reads: "The revolutionaries of the Tripoli brigade." The confirmation of
hectic activities of Islamic extremists on Syrian soil comes from the same
number of attacks claimed by al-Qaeda. Since December, there have been at least with 35car bomb attacks and 10 suicide
attacks on Syrian soil. Of these 4 were claimed by the "Front Nusra"
of Al Qaeda.
The presence of jihadi groups from the Syrian free Army raised many
controversies on a diplomatic level. Yesterday Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign
Minister, has accused the United
States policy of supporting anti Asssasd
Islamist insurgents. He criticized the position of Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the UN, who never condemned
the attack in Damascus
last July 18 that claimed the lives of several prominent members of the regime,
calling instead for the imposition of new sanctions.
Meanwhile, the possibility of an armed intervention to depose President
Assad is gaining ground. A study by the Royal
United Services Institute (RUSI), a British organization specializing in
issues of international politics and defense, warns of a likely clash between
Sunni groups supported by Saudi Arabia
and other Arab states and Shi'ite militias, including Hezbollah and the Syrian
army, backed by Iran.
In addition, there is the threat of chemical weapons in the hands of the Syrian
regime. The presence of chemical weapons worries Israel
which has already begun distributing gas masks in the towns on the border with Syria. In
recent days, Shimon Peres, Israeli president, said that the likely use of
unconventional weapons by the Damascus regime
poses a serious risk to the security of Israel. In the event of a fall of
the regime, Peres fears the potential transfer of Syrian heavy weapons or
chemical weapons arsenal to Lebanese Shiite fundamentalist Hezbollah or Iran, but also
their theft by Islamic groups linked to al-Qaeda.
to Michael Clarke, head of RUSI, a Western military intervention is necessary
before the war degenerates. " We are not moving towards intervention, but
intervention is moving towards us." Clarke argues that the events of recent
days have created a radical change in the situation which leaves little
possibility for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The head of RUSI suggests
the intervention of special forces in support of rebel groups, already used in Afghanistan in 2001 and Libya in 2011.
These operations may also include a coup against the regime.