Announcement of Islamic State in Aleppo Met with Widespread Denials. Opposition Gains Ground and Recognition in Europe
Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
“We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition, and one of the things that we have to be on guard about — particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures — is that we’re not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do Americans harm, or do Israelis harm, or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security.
So we’re constantly probing and working on that issue. The more engaged we are, the more we’ll be in a position to make sure that we are encouraging the most moderate, thoughtful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights, and working cooperatively with us over the long term.”
AP Exclusive: Syrian rebels seize base, arms trove
By BEN HUBBARD | Associated Press –
Syrian army soldier prisoners stand near ammunition after Syrian fighters took over the military base in Aleppo, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
Here is video of the arms
BASE OF THE 46TH REGIMENT, Syria (AP) — After a nearly two-month siege, Syrian rebels overwhelmed a large military base in the north of the country and made off with tanks, armored vehicles and truckloads of munitions that rebel leaders say will give them a boost in the fight against President Bashar Assad’s army.
The rebel capture of the base of the Syrian army’s 46th Regiment is a sharp blow to the government’s efforts to roll back rebels gains and shows a rising level of organization among opposition forces.
More important than the base’s fall, however, are the weapons the rebels found inside.
At a rebel base where the much of the haul was taken after the weekend victory, rebel fighters unloaded half a dozen large trucks piled high with green boxes full of mortars, artillery shells, rockets and rifles taken from the base. Parked nearby were five tanks, two armored vehicles, two rocket launchers and two heavy-caliber artillery cannons.
Around 20 Syrian soldiers captured in the battle were put to work carrying munitions boxes, barefoot and stripped to the waist. Rebels refused to let reporters talk to them or see where they were being held.
The World’s Next Genocide
By SIMON ADAMS – Op-Ed Contributor
New York Times November 15, 2012
AT a recent meeting hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, Peter W. Galbraith, a former American ambassador who witnessed ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, made a chilling prediction. “The next genocide in the world,” he said, “will likely be against the Alawites in Syria.”
A few months ago, talk of possible massacres of Alawites, who dominate Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, seemed like pro-regime propaganda. Now, it is a real possibility.
For more than a year, Mr. Assad’s government has been committing crimes against humanity in Syria. As it fights for survival on the streets of Aleppo and Damascus, the risk of unrestrained reprisals against Mr. Assad’s Alawite sect and Syria’s other religious minorities is growing every day. …..
As the civil war intensifies, Mr. Assad is increasingly outsourcing the dirty work. In Damascus, militia groups within Druse, Christian and Shiite areas are being armed by the government. While the justifications for these militias are “neighborhood self-defense” and the protection of religious sites, the shabiha emerged in a similar way before becoming killing squads for Mr. Assad. And by drawing Christians, Druse, Shiites and Alawites into the civil war on an explicitly sectarian basis, the Syrian government has all but guaranteed that there will be reprisals against these communities if Mr. Assad falls…..
Governments that have publicly committed themselves to helping end Syria’s misery, including the United States, must immediately do two things to help prevent a violent backlash against Alawites and other minorities. First, they must impress upon the newly united Syrian opposition that support depends on strict adherence to international humanitarian law. Armed groups who advocate fracturing Syria along sectarian or regional lines should be denied funds; there should be absolutely no aid for rebel groups who target Alawites and other minorities for reprisals or who commit war crimes….
By Christoph Reuter The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has perpetrated brutal attacks on both rebel fighters and civilians alike. Lately, though, the spotlight of world attention has been on alleged atrocities committed by those attempting …
In the new video, 13 Islamic radical factions denounced the coalition as a foreign creation.
Most important among them were the al-Tawheed Brigade, which is one of the largest rebel groups operating in Aleppo, and Jabhat al-Nusra – Arabic for “the Support Front” – which is mainly made up of foreign jihadi fighters. Jabhat al-Nusra has become notorious for suicide bombings targeting regime and military facilities and is at the forefront of fighting in Aleppo.
“We are the representatives of the fighting formations in Aleppo and we declare our rejection of the conspiratorial project, the so-called national alliance,” an unidentified speaker said in the video. “We have unanimously agreed to urgently establish an Islamic state.”
Islamist rebels challenge National Coalition
November 20, 2012
By Marlin Dick, The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A group of Islamist rebel factions in Aleppo has emphatically denounced the Syrian National Coalition and vowed to establish an Islamic state in Syria, highlighting the newly formed body’s struggle to shore up the ranks of the armed opposition.
But while the Islamist declaration generated vocal outrage by opposition activists and was at odds with rebels fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, the National Coalition has at best a short honeymoon period in which to score tangible achievements.
A video posted on YouTube late Sunday showed representatives from more than a dozen Islamist rebel factions gathered in Aleppo to express their rejection of “the so-called conspiratorial ‘National Coalition,’” which was established in Doha, Qatar on Nov. 11 by leading opposition groups and figures.
The National Coalition was formed after pressure from Washington, which was disappointed with the performance over the last year by the principal opposition-in-exile bloc, the Syrian National Council.
The fighter who reads the announcement adds that the Islamist rebel factions are “unanimously agreed on establishing a just Islamic state,” as they reject any type of “foreign [-sponsored] coalitions and councils that are imposed on us.”
After the speaker concludes his short statement, one of the fighters standing around a long table adds an impromptu appeal to make the Quran the Constitution of a new Syrian state.
The Aleppo statement is made in the name of the Nusra Front, Tawhid Brigade and a host of other hard-line Islamist groups.
The mainstream FSA, according to Col. Malek al-Kurdi, its Turkey-based deputy commander, rejected the announcement and speculated that it had been made without the knowledge of the groups supposedly represented.
“We are trying, along with many battalions, to achieve the unity of arms against the regime of Bashar Assad,” Kurdi told The Daily Star.
“We do not support any talk of formation of [Islamic] emirates … the people will decide the type of regime” that should be established if the Assad government falls, he continued.
Kurdi dismissed the criticism by the Aleppo Islamists that the National Coalition was a foreign-dominated organization. “We support the National Coalition, which remains incomplete” in terms of its membership, he said, referring to the fact that the FSA had yet to be named to the group’s executive committee because it was involved in its own re-organization drive.
Kurdi said that foreign countries were supporting the attempts to unify the armed opposition into a single command structure, but “this doesn’t mean that the National Coalition is subject to a foreign agenda.”
The Aleppo announcement provoked objections and outrage by wide swathes of pro-uprising Syrians – they might not be enamored of the FSA, but view the brazen declaration of an Islamic state as contradicting the goals of the uprising.
The authenticity of the statement is also in doubt, as spokesmen from at least two of the main Islamist groups, the Tawhid Brigade and the Ahrar al-Sham Battalions, disassociated themselves from the development, in comments to Al-Jazeera television.
The head of the National Coalition, Ahmad Moaz Khatib, told Al-Jazeera he had doubts about how representative the statement was, and said “the street,” and not individual rebel groups, would decide Syria’s political future. ….
UK recognises Syria opposition coalition: London says National Coalition is the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
4th Friends of Syria conference to be held in Marrakech, Morocco
Nov. 20, 2012 (Xinhua) — The 4th Friends of Syria conference will be held in Marrakech in central Morocco on Dec. 12, in an attempt to increase pressure on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a statement released by Moroccan ministry of foreign affairs on Tuesday.
With events in Gaza dominating the news from the Middle East, the long-running conflict in Syria has slid down in the headlines. To the extent that Syria is being reported at all, the main story for several days has been of political wrangling over leadership of the opposition.
This is unfortunate, because important things are happening on the ground – largely unnoticed. Rebel fighters have made significant gains while the regime, despite its continuing ability to flatten whole streets with bombs and shellfire, appears to be making an unsteady retreat.
At the weekend, after a siege of more than a month, rebels overran the 46th Division’s base at Atarib, west of Aleppo city. The base, spread over 12 sq km and said to be the largest in northern Syria, had played a key role in the Assad regime’s defence of Aleppo.
Here is a report from Andrew Simmons of al-Jazeera English:….
This doesn’t mean that the fall of the regime is imminent. But it does mean the regime is now well beyond any point from which it can seriously hope to recover. And, as the rebels capture more and more of its own weapons, its decline is likely to quicken.