The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham Expands Into Rural Northern Syria

In the previous post, Aymenn al-Tamimi discussed developments in the relationship between two primary al-Qa’ida affiliates operating in Syria: Jabhat al-Nusra, and the ISIS. Through his analysis he concluded that in some areas the distinction between Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is blurry, while in other areas the two seem to visibly operate as distinctly separate groups. He also believes that though a “grand ideological clash” between the two groups is not impossible, it is premature to point to one at present. Now, in part two, Aymenn delves into the growth of ISIS power in specific communities and discusses the plausibility of predicted FSA – ISIS confrontation.


The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham Expands Into Rural Northern Syria

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimiby Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi for Syria Comment


In a post for Jihadology a few weeks back, I identified how the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) was playing an important role in the fighting on the outskirts of the city of Aleppo and in the surrounding countryside. Since that time, it has become apparent that the group has been seeking to expand outwards and to consolidate control over outlying towns in both the Aleppo and Idlib regions, particularly those of strategic importance along or near the border with Turkey.


This initiative has already served to foster division. For example, in the town of Azaz, which is in close proximity to the Turkish border, a protest ocurred on July 1 against ISIS’ entry into the town and its attempt to establish headquarters there. Yet on July 5, Azaz saw a counter-rally in favor of ISIS featuring a slogan common for such demonstrations—‘Labbayka ya Allah’ (‘I am at your service, God’)—accompanied by conspicuous numbers of ISIS flags.

It should be noted that this pattern of division—between those members of Syrian society who support ISIS vs. those who do not—is also observed in the city of Aleppo itself, where ISIS supporters have generally held separate rallies from those of other demonstrators. (I have found one notable exception: a rally on June 4 for the then-besieged city of Qusayr in the area of al-Firdus, featuring both ISIS and Free Syrian Army [FSA] flags).

Resentment over the ISIS presence in Azaz grows. One notable outlet for this disapproving sentiment is a youth activist Facebook page called ‘The Youth of Aleppo—Azaz’ which posted the following status: ‘We ask the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham to establish their state from Iraq [meaning ‘in Iraq’?] since the system of prostitution [there] has not yet fallen.’

The group has also circulated an alleged statement from a local council in the town of Tel Abyaḍ in Raqqah Governorate claiming that the ISIS has confiscated internationally-donated generators intended to provide drinking water for the residents of the town.

On the other hand, ISIS is attempting some outreach to the locals of Azaz, offering Qur’an and Sunnah recitation competitions—among other religious activities—for the population during Ramaḍān.


As for other towns, here is a photo of the ISIS headquarters in the northern border town of Jarabulus. The banner reads: ‘The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham: Province of Aleppo. Emirate of Jarabulus.’

ISIS headquarters, Jarabulus, Syria

Another photo shows the flag of ISIS flying over Jarabulus:

ISIS flag flies over Jarabulus, Syria

One activist page on Facebook called ‘Jabhat al-Nusra does not represent me’ claims the following to give context to the first photo: ‘Photo from Jarabulus following the seizure of it by al-Qa’ida after battles with the FSA. It is said that ISIS then killed scores of civilians, among them children, during al-Qa’ida’s attempt to occupy the town.’

In a similar vein, on June 15, the Arabic news outlet al-Waie News claimed to cite a local source in Jarabulus on clashes between ISIS and a rebel battalion known as the ‘Family of Jādir,’ which uses the FSA flag.

The source claimed that the clashes started after a member of ISIS was wounded during a round of celebratory gunfire that followed a concord reached between the two groups, giving rise to a renewed violent battle between ISIS and the Family of Jādir for fifteen hours, resulting in ISIS’ seizure of the town, as well as the killing of one ISIS fighter and several from the Family of Jādir.

On 13 June, the leader of the Family of Jādir—Yusuf al-Jādir—released video testimony in which he claimed that ISIS launched an attack on the home of Ahmad al-Jādir and then began shooting at dozens of innocent civilians, resulting in the deaths of several children: among them, Mahmoud Kerkaz, Sheikho Shawish, Ibrahim al-Ahmad, and a young Kurdish girl. He continues by documenting other alleged acts of ISIS aggression in the town.

It thus appears that ISIS seized control of Jarabulus by force. One thing that is important to note from the opposing testimony is the issue of naming. The source for al-Waie News from Jarabulus merely sees ISIS as a new name for Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) in the town, and Yusuf al-Jādir likewise deems the two names interchangeable.

Thus, even if my formulation for the city of Aleppo itself—that ISIS and JN are two separate entities—applies here, the perception of at least some residents of the town nevertheless differs. As in Raqqah, the two may well be interchangeable in Jarabulus.

The concept of interchangeability could make sense here in light of the fact that JN has had an active presence in the northern Turkish border areas in the past (cf. clashes with Farouq Battalions in April on the border in Raqqah Governorate). Certainly, Jarabulus has been known for a JN presence in the past: here is a video of a JN-led rally in Jarabulus from December 14, 2012, featuring the chant of ‘We are Anṣar Allah.’

In this context, one should also note a revealing report from the Damascus Bureau, which actually visited Jarabulus. The reporter, Youssef Shaikho, explains that Jabhat al-Nusra in Jarabulus supported the announcement of ISIS, and most of its fighters in the town are native Syrians, providing a notable exception to the media narrative of ISIS as a group solely composed of foreign fighters.

Further blurring the lines of group-alignment and public sentiment, not all those who, like al-Jādir, use the FSA flag in Jarabulus are necessarily opposed to ISIS’ ideological vision. For example, here is a Facebook activist page from Jarabulus that uses the FSA flag. Yet it has put up a status that laments the loss of the Khilafa (Caliphate) and denounces the UN and its decision-making as a mere front for occupation.

In any event, ISIS is now said to be operating an active Shari’a court in Jarabulus, which has allegedly executed three young men recently on charges of rape and murder. ISIS is also accused of detaining the son of a prominent martyr from the Family of Jādir known as Abu Furāt.

In terms of the reasons behind the Jādir-ISIS clashes, one should be cautious about presenting them as a simple ideological battle. It rather seems to have been a power struggle for control of an important border area. The Kurdish PYD, as the Damascus Bureau notes, also has a small activist presence in Jarabulus, yet it has been left untouched and tolerated by ISIS.

At the same time, ISIS is trying to counter the allegations put out about its conduct in Jarabulus by emphasizing local support in the town for the group, including children.


Another town in rural Aleppo where ISIS is establishing its presence is al-Bab. On July 5, the outlet Saḍa ash-Sham al-Islami put up a set of photos of a meeting for Dawah  held by the ISIS in al-Bab. [Da’wa means “invitation” and often refers to proselytism—the inviting of others to join Islam. In this case, it refers to outreach to Muslims to strengthen their faith.]

Da'wah meeting in al-Bab

In contrast to what appears to have been a more aggressive approach in Jarabulus, ISIS seems to be engaging in an active outreach effort to the population of al-Bab. Thus, the local outlet al-Bab Press reported that ISIS is running school bus services for children who have seen their education disrupted for many months by Assad regime bomb attacks. A local FB page in al-Bab also gave an account last month from an ISIS fighter of clashes between ISIS and Assad regime soldiers aided by Hezbollah fighters in the wider Aleppo area.


The town of Manbij offers a case contrasting with that of al-Bab. Recently, Manbij has seen a protest rally against ISIS. The demonstration was sparked by two grievances against ISIS: first, ISIS is accused by some local activists of destroying works of art in Manbij, and second, of kidnapping a local sheikh. Protests continued into Friday of last week, on which day ISIS had been holding a daw’ah meeting in Manbij featuring a number of locals in support of the group, as per the photo below.

ISIS holds dawah meeting in Manbij, Syria

Prior to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s announcement of the formation of ISIS in early April, Manbij had been known for an active JN presence in alliance with Ahrar ash-Sham, who together took on the Farouq Battalions in violent clashes in the town at the beginning of the month, resulting in the expulsion of the Farouq Battalions from Manbij.

The clashes began after Ahrar ash-Sham had arrested a certain Abu Khaldun, a friend of the leader of the Farouq Battalions in Manbij. Ahrar ash-Sham and its allies justified the arrest on the grounds that this man had been one of the leading criminal figures in Manbij and had to be put on trial by the Shari’a committee in Aleppo, while emphasizing that there was no fundamental conflict between them and those under the banner of the FSA.

Following the defeat of the Farouq Battalions, Ahrar ash-Sham held a victory rally in Manbij on 6 April with dozens of supporters and allies, featuring the al-Qa’ida flag and a banner reading ‘The Ummah wants an Islamic Khilafa.’ The person who uploaded the video described it as being held in celebration of the expulsion of ‘gangs of thieves’- a common charge leveled against the Farouq Battalions in the north, which unlike the Ikhwaan-aligned Homs division lack ties to any major Islamist groups.

On a side note, the rally itself should illustrate that those who posit a strict dichotomy between supposedly ‘nationalist’ Salafists in Ahrar ash-Sham as opposed to transnational jihadists are mistaken. This rally in Manbij and Ahrar ash-Sham’s statement on JN’s pledge of allegiance to al-Qa’ida show that concepts of the transnational ummah that supersedes “artificial borders” and the nation-state of Syria are often blurred in Ahrar ash-Sham’s ideological thought.

Of course, one also must not generalize in the opposite direction and portray all of Ahrar ash-Sham as bent on an international Khilafa. Yet whenever non-Islamists protest against groups like ISIS, as a rule Ahrar ash-Sham can be expected to side with the latter (cf. the case of Raqqah which I documented last month).

In the context of Manbij, therefore, one should not be surprised about a blurring of distinction between Ahrar ash-Sham’s support base and what is now known as the ISIS presence. Indeed, it is also apparent that there is another virtual mirror front of ISIS active in Manbij: namely, Ansar al-Khilafa, which is composed of a mix of native Syrians and foreign fighters, though exact proportions are unclear.

Ansar al-Khilafa is most prominent in rural Aleppo and Latakia. In the April rally led by Ahrar ash-Sham, it is likely that there were Ansar al-Khilafa supporters among the crowd. Here is a recent mural put up in Manbij in support of the group:

Ansar al-Khilafa mural in Manbij, Syria


The final case we come to on the subject of ISIS’ expansion is that of ad-Dana in Idlib, near the border with Turkey. Here, a protest rally is said to have taken place against ISIS (though no video footage of it has emerged so far), sparking violent clashes. Yet it is the only case where we have a mainstream media outlet allowing ISIS to give its full side of the story thanks to an al-Jazeera English report (H/T: @khalidelmousoui) from the town. In the report, ISIS fighters claimed that those denouncing their presence were actually agents of the Assad regime.

However, it appears that this testimony is contradicted in an account given by pro-ISIS activists in Idlib, who denounced the clashes as ‘the work of some of the apostates of the Free Army.’ Meanwhile, a pro-ISIS Twitter user complained at the time of the clashes that the ‘malicious Free Army’ was besieging ISIS and expressed concerns about the beginnings of a ‘Sahwa’ movement against ISIS.

As of now, the al-Jazeera report says that ISIS is the only remaining armed group in the town. This is corroborated by local Idlib activist testimony that there are now no armed clashes in the town and reconciliation initiatives are underway. At the same time, claims that ISIS executed dozens of supporters of those identifying under the banner of the FSA—stemming chiefly from an ad-Dana rebel leader’s testimony were denied.

That said, both the rebel leader whose testimony is given by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the al-Jazeera report corroborate each other on the ISIS fighters as being from outside Syria.

Now in control of the town, ISIS is running a school for the children, and the ISIS presence as reported by al-Jazeera is corroborated by a video that has now emerged of ISIS fighters manning the entrance into ad-Dana.


In short, these various cases illustrate ISIS’ growing power in the north of Syria. ISIS is clearly not a force to be dismissed as marginal without any real support on the ground, even as its presence is undoubtedly sparking backlash in many areas. Above all, these recent developments as regards ISIS’ expansion vindicate to an extent my prediction in March in a guest post for Syria Comment about the emergence and establishment of jihadist strongholds in the north and east of Syria.

In terms of the future, one needs to be skeptical of the narrative being put out by Supreme Military Command (SMC) supporters of a looming, grand-scale FSA effort to take on ISIS in the north of Syria in a fundamental clash of ideologies. Resentment at the ideological level is more to be expected from civilian protestors rather than armed rebels.

One should particularly note my distinction here between SMC supporters and those in general who go by the banner of the FSA. While SMC supporters would like to portray all of those under the banner of FSA as opposed to ISIS, the evidence speaks otherwise, exemplified in this recent statement by an FSA military council in Aleppo denying rumors of clashes between their ‘brothers’ in ISIS and JN.

SMC supporters are likely the source of at least some of the allegations against ISIS, including the recent claim that ISIS is planning to declare a wider northern state after Ramaḍān: plausible in light of ISIS’ expansion in northern Syria but as of now uncorroborated in pro-ISIS circles.

Other rumors likely originating from pro-SMC sources include an alleged statement by JN distancing itself from ISIS (not released through JN’s official channel al-Manārah al-Bayḍā, so therefore suspect) and claims that ISIS killed Abu Furāt of Jarabulus, when his funeral actually took place a few months before ISIS was announced.

In particular, the reports attempting to portray JN in open conflict with ISIS are building on a narrative stemming from a Reuters piece in which JN was portrayed as a group of native Syrians disillusioned with the machinations of the foreign fighters of ISIS, hinting at the possibility of JN teaming up with other rebels to take on ISIS.

The motivation for spreading rumors about ISIS is quite apparent: namely, the SMC’s bid to secure Western arms, which will then be supposedly used to take on what Western nations like the UK perceive to be the number-one threat emanating from Syria.

In any case, the current PR war between SMC supporters and ISIS supporters will continue. Feeling the pressure, the latter have recently announced the formation of a new forum intended to counter purported media disinformation about the group. Thus can the exchange of claims and counter-claims be expected to intensify. Ascertaining the full truth short of getting on the ground will remain elusive.


Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University. His website is Follow on Twitter at @ajaltamimi

Comments (491)

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151. Juergen said:

FSA try to save 2 children with a sad surprising end

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July 19th, 2013, 11:48 pm


152. omen said:

obama sacrificed 100k+ syrians just so his legacy is marked in history books as the administration that regained diplomatic ties with iran:

U.S. Congress gestures in an unusual direction: toward diplomacy with Iran

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July 20th, 2013, 12:02 am


153. Syrialover said:

ZIAD #49 I respect you for admitting that you at one stage felt hatred for Bashar Assad for his lack of reforms.

But there is one thing that you and others seem to flick aside as if it didn’t matter. The thing that’s the deepest and dirtiest betrayal of the Syrian people, the most disastrous thing that’s happened.

That is Bashar Assad handing over Syria’s fate and welfare to Iran and Russia. In doing this he’s recklessly prostituted and debased Syria, selling it out very cheaply.

He rushed to do a deal to help the Assad family and a shrunken circle of cronies stay in power, in return for helping Putin and the Ayatollahs (note I don’t say the Russian and Iranian people) fulfil their own self-interested, short-term, primitive and pointless agendas.

We have been forced to watch the swift outsourcing of responsibility for Syria’s sovereignty, security, independence, dignity, international reputation, decision making, security and future to pariah foreign governments. To outsiders who have no respect or interest in the people of Syria and have shown they are very happy to facilitate the destruction of the country.

The obsessing about the opposition members (hijacked by the MB) and Qatar etc is TINY SCALE, IRRELEVANT and TRANSIENT compared with the Assad regime’s wholesale sellout of Syria’s fate and welfare to serve outsider’s agendas.

Have you considered ZIAD, what would have happened without Assad rushing to rely on foreign intervention by Russia and Iran?

The regime might have been forced to reform and compromise – like you desperately wanted Bashar to do a few years ago. And the Syria might have been saved.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:05 am


154. majedkhaldoun said:

Ghufran said
I think if Khayyer comes out dead Assad will pay a price and the two non Baathists in his government, jamil and Haydar, will be under pressure to resign.
I wonder what can they do,Assad will put them in jail just like he put Al Khayyer in jail, and later he will kill them, they may be under pressure morally to resign, but getting in may be easy, getting out is not so easy, they may have to shut up or face death, brutal dictator like Bashar will not tolerate any desent.

You mentioned Takfiri, this word means that we Sunni call Shiaa Kuffar, there is the whole truth in calling your group Kuffar, what we are saying is what God said in Quraan about the Shiaa, read souret Zummar the first page God said

الا لله الدين الخالص,والذين يتخذون من دون الله اولياء ….ان الله لا يهدي من كان كاذبا كفارا

Shiaa consider Ali and Hussein as Walis so God said that you are Kuffar and liers in Quraan, according to you God is takfiri
You call yourself Moslem yet you violate Quraan words. and when we say Shiaa are kuffar and liers we only repeat God words as told in Quraan in souret Zummar

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July 20th, 2013, 12:12 am


155. Ziad said:

The western coverage of the Syrian war is hypocritical in the extreme. The media sees only the atrocities perpetrated by the government forces. They do not see a child being employed by the rebels to cut off a Syrian soldier’s head, or Abu Sakkar, commander of the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade, cutting out a soldier’s heart and liver and putting the heart into his mouth with the exultant cry: “Oh, my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!”

On 27 May the rebels massacred the Christian village of al-Duvair on the outskirts of Homs. This was just the latest in a genocidal persecution of varied methods: in Khalidiya, Christians and Alawites were imprisoned in a building which was then dynamited. Christians are 10 per cent of the population, Alawites 13 per cent: the Sunni rebels are committed to eliminate 23 per cent of the Syrian people. Up to 400,000 Christians have already fled the country. Who mentions this? Their sufferings do not exist for our “free press”.

When they are sometimes forced to acknowledge such atrocities, they do so only to sanitise them and excuse them. Only last week Senator John McCain remarked: “Horrible things are happening on both sides but with Bashar al-Assad’s forces it is a tactic that they use to intimidate and cow the population.” So what is the purpose of the atrocities committed by the jihadists? Perhaps they are just youthful high spirits? When a child is shot in front of his parents for a chance remark about the Prophet, was that perhaps a manifestation of religious fervour? Senator McCain does not see fit to enlighten us.

Allan Woods

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July 20th, 2013, 12:17 am


156. omen said:

the regime will undoubtedly pay a heavy price if the news about dr AA Alkhayyer are accurate, government sources deny that they detained Khayyer but nobody believes them. Three members of the internal opposition were arrested today in Tartous

you said he was arrested before. was he released and the regime re arrested him?

google says the ncb trio went missing in sept 2012.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:21 am


157. omen said:

the hunger strike campaign was said to have worked with reports regime released women prisoners of conscience but i have not seen photographs documenting as such.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:25 am


158. Ghufran said:

Al-Azhar, not Takfiri Muslims, have clearly said that Shia are Muslims , I do not think we have to wait for the followers of ibn taymia to tell us the ” truth”.
The problem with Takfiri islamists, like some on this blog, is that they used the label
” Kuffar’ to justify discrimination and violence, that makes takfiris , not shia or iran, the biggest enemy of Muslims and a serious threat to peace and unity.
On paper, Takfiri Muslims are against secular dictatorships but in reality they are in the same camp and they fight for power and domination like all dictaorships. Assad and other dictators main selling point is this:
We might be bad but Takfiri Islamists are worse .
Until a third movement gains traction in Muslim countries , those countries are doomed.
Turkey progressed only after a strong secular democracy emerges, Erdogang is trying to reverse that, Egyptians revolted against both types of dictatorships, I hope they succeed,if they do we may start seeing similar movements in other Muslim countries.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:32 am


159. omen said:

150 & 156. The media sees only the atrocities perpetrated by the government forces.

zaid, nice to see you acknowledge the regime are inhuman murderous bastards.

any crack in the obtuse wall of denial is a good start.

the regime has also slaughtered tens of thousands of syrian mandelas.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:55 am



Ziad never acknowledges regime’s atrocities. It just cuts and pasts, much like DONANN, without reading what it cuts and pastes.

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July 20th, 2013, 2:42 am


161. Juergen said:

I am not sure it this open letter has been posted here before or not:

Yassin al-Haj Saleh

Help Syria now. Tomorrow it may be too late
An open letter to friends and leaders of public opinion in the west: current policy is short-sighted and inhumane

“Dear friends,

Three months ago, I left the city of Damascus, where life had become too oppressive, to go to the “liberated” area of East Ghouta. An area that had 2 million inhabitants before the uprising, East Ghouta is now populated by only around one million. It was a base from which the rebels headed towards the capital, but is now completely besieged by the regime’s forces due to renewed support from Russia and Iran, and the arrival of Iran-sponsored Iraqi and Lebanese militias. During the past three months, I have personally witnessed the staggering lack of arms, ammunition, and even food for the fighters. Many of them would get two meals a day at most, and their situation would have been immeasurably worse had they not been local residents, protecting their own towns and families, and living off their own kin.”

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July 20th, 2013, 2:48 am


162. SANDRO LOEWE said:

News about the detention by FSA of ATEF NAGIB, the criminal of Daraa, that opened the door to the Syrian Revolution after torturing children and violate their mothers:القبض-على-عاطف-نجيب-مفجر-الثورة-شائعة

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July 20th, 2013, 3:32 am


163. SANDRO LOEWE said:


What is your opinion about Germany foreign policy? Are people in the streets of Bonn and Berlin proud about letting a whole country and their populations disappear in the hands of a little Hitler? Or is Israel that controls german Middle East policies too?

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July 20th, 2013, 3:35 am



The English version of Yassin’s letter first appeared on OTW’s blog (Walls or 7ee6an) with slightly different translation. OTW later linked to the Guardian’s as the “official translation”.

In the meantime, is it true that the Federal Police is accusing a d-p athad spy (Samer S.) in Germany of spying on the syrian oppositions for more than a year?, it turns out that this d-p athad supporter went beyond bootllicking on blogs into active collaboration with the d-p athad spooks in the military attache office of d-p athad embassy. I think it is about time Germany kicks out the criminal staff at that embassy who are spying on and threatening German Citizens of Syrian origin as well as Syrian residents of Germanny, many of whom are refugees from the criminal thug d-p athad and its hyena packs. What a filthy regime and filthy supporters.

نحو وطن عصري ديمقراطي علماني : New Syrian Project‎
اعتقال جاسوس على المعارضة السورية في المانيا…
محلي 2013-07-19

اعلنت النيابة الفدرالية الالمانية الجمعة اتهام عنصر محتمل في اجهزة الاستخبارات السورية يشتبه في انه تجسس طيلة قرابة عام على المعارضة السورية في المانيا.

ويشتبه في ان سامر س. (37 عاما) قام بانشطة تجسس لحساب الاستخبارات السورية بين اذار/مارس 2011 وشباط/فبراير 2012، بحسب بيان للنيابة الفدرالية في كارلسروه (جنوب غرب) المختصة في مجال التجسس والارهاب.

واوضح متحدث باسم النيابة ردا على سؤال لوكالة فرانس برس “لم يتم اعتقاله وترك حر التنقل”. وخضع منزل هذا العنصر المشتبه فيه للتفتيش بعد اعتقال عنصرين محتملين في الاستخبارات السورية في شباط/فبراير 2012.

وبحسب النيابة الفدرالية، فان سامر س. كان مكلفا التقاط صور لعناصر في المعارضة السورية في برلين تهدف الى تسهيل مهمة اجهزة الاستخبارات في التعرف على هوية معارضي النظام.

واوضحت ان “مهمته كانت المراقبة والتجسس على معارضين سوريين يقيمون في المانيا وانشطتهم”.

وبحسب النيابة ايضا، فانه كان يسلم معلوماته وصوره الى المكتب العسكري في السفارة السورية في برلين.

وفي كانون الاول/ديسمبر 2012، حكمت محكمة في برلين على احد العنصرين في الاستخبارات السورية اللذين اعتقلا في شباط/فبراير من السنة نفسها،

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July 20th, 2013, 4:20 am


165. Alan said:

/The Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham Expands Into Rural Northern Syria/
Al-Qaeda’s planned emirate in Syria is West’s own doing

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July 20th, 2013, 5:08 am


166. Alan said:

All three of them are agreeing this is a civil war but the only militia that even claims to be indigenous -the FSA – is 95% NON-Syrian, according to a recent German intelligence report. Syrians have no part in this. It’s an invasion by Western/Saudi/Qatari-backed death squads.
* * *
I do not understand why they call it a civil war. The so called opposition are nearly no Syrians and mostly extremists and merceneries from abroad Syria armed by the US and others doing their dirty work like in Iraq before. Most people in Syria are with Assad and the Syrian army. Form the Syrian perspective they fight terrorism. This is no civil war. Syria is defending itself against an invasion through the west (mostly USA) using reginal extremists groups and merceneries.

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July 20th, 2013, 5:16 am



Obsessed with the letter “N”?

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July 20th, 2013, 5:29 am


168. Juergen said:


I think you can not blame the Germans as a whole for the inaction. People know there is a conflict, but many have long ago stopped understanding the situation. Things may change sooner or later, more and more refugees are coming, by now 16.000 have come,illegally, the 5000 official refugees not counting. They all bring their stories with them, each represent an ambassador for the crimes committed by the regime upon them.

I blame the inaction on the government, the official contacts to the regime were intact until early 2012. Much more could have been done to hurt the regime. Why not pressure the UAE to stop laundry the money of the Assads. Why does the Rifaat clan walking freely enjoying their assets in the streets of London and Paris?
A unified european economic sanction against the Russians would also send a strong signal to Moscow to stop allying with this regime.

Why is there no joint Europe-Turkey relief operations in the borderarea?

Syrian Hamster

I read the plaint against this fella and was surprised to find out that this guy was the one who stole two mobile phones during a demonstration of one of the leading organizers of almost all demonstrations against the regime. He then brought the phones to the Syrian Embassy for examination. Good our government has stopped the embassy to operate normally, my guess nowadays such operations are masterminded in the Iranian and Russian embassy.

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July 20th, 2013, 5:43 am



Still waiting for the “strategic response” to the humiliating assault on d-p athad’s ammo cache near Lattakia…

Thanks for the added details. The story i posted did not mention the mobile phone story. So there is also a petty criminal offence. Well petty thievery is definitely part and parcel of the hyena’s mind.

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July 20th, 2013, 5:48 am


170. SimoHurtta said:

36. Sami said:


Whatever Omen chooses to do on his/her time is his/her business and not mine and neither it is yours. Unless you work for some intelligence agency and building a file on people here….

Omen and others supporting his/hers Syria (Iran, Egypt etc) “view” are all time accusing those who do the support so much the rebel movement on personal levels and speculating with their motives and backgrounds. Omen him/herself revealed his/her twitter identity by linking to it here on Syria Comment. The characterization (calif.nonsyrian.nonmuslim) on his/her personal Twitter datapage is made by him/herself. He/she has to answer why he/she needed to write that for the whole world to see.

Of course I have the right to wonder in writing how and why a calif.nonSyrian.nonMuslim needs and can write over 32,000 tweets mainly about Syria. As said such a massive effort is not done easily even if much of the tweets are retweets. One needs several years whole time work to produce such amounts remembering, that Omen is active also outside twitter. Like on Syria Comment. Retweeting also means the one finds and reads the original tweet and often makes additional comments. It is not done in “seconds”.

By the way Omen’s name in twitter is now sos (@omen_99), but is still calif.nonSyrian.nonMuslim. It is a bit unclear to me from where comes the new name. Maybe a shortening form
Secretary of State or
Special order sale or maybe
Save our Souls.

If you Sami are so worried about Omen’s activities privacy, maybe you could advice him/her not to reveal so much about him/herself. If Omen wants privacy and anonymity, there is one obvious solution to that. Everybody who is active on some internet’s political “forums” is under the “magnifying glass” of others. Do you know how many times I have been “speculated” why a Finn like me is so interested of events in Middle East? Many times. Why can’t I ask a Californian nonMuslim activist the same? I by the way have written in total 2 tweets and make a daily on the average 2 – 3 comments to different “places”. Some days zero, some days 5 (normal maximum), never tens.

“About that 95 percent of WW2 war prisoners in Russia were killed?”

That was not my argument, and you bringing in someone else’s argument and trying to paint as mine is telling of how limited your knowledge on the subject is. I was arguing how juxtaposing to crimes beside each other in order to excuse one of them is an amoral and shallow argument.

Well you accused me for defending Russia. The only time I did it recently was to that 95% claim made by Observer. I provided the figures (= proof) to show how untrue that claim is. The figures were from public internet pages, the Finnish figures from pages in Finnish. All the time I can read here arguments of the “crimes” made by Iran (Persia like M calls it), Russia, China, Hizbollah, (even) Israel etc. What is the problem if I and others make arguments about US, Western, Saudis etc hypocrisy and “crimes”? Free speech means also the ability to tolerate different opinions (which you and your ideological buddies seem to lack).

“Well the “difference” was not big because the communist government of Afghanistan was not very “democratic”, but then Afghanistan was relative equal among genders.”

If by equal you mean equally suppressed by a foreign entity that was seen as an occupation force by the majority of the Afghans then you are correct…

During communist times Afghanistan had women as ministers, teachers, doctors, helicopter pilots etc. Girls had schools and future. When USA and Saudis with bin Laden appeared to Afghanistan during the 80’s the picture changed. Islamic fundamentalism changed Afghanistan, not Russia. Talebans (donated by Saudis and USA) you know…

“Putin became president in May 2000 at the time when the second war ended.”

Who was PM of Russia in 1999? Is his name perhaps Vladimir Putin? Who made a name for himself as a ” law-and-order image and his unrelenting approach to the renewed crisis in the North Caucasus, which started when the Islamic International Brigade based in Chechnya invaded a neighboring region starting the War in Dagestan, soon combined to raise Putin’s popularity and allowed him to overtake all rivals.”?

Sure Putin was the prime minister, but not during war number one and when the seeds of the conflict were planted. Even the most “liberal” other Russian PM (or president) had reacted to situation exactly with same force. As said Chechnya like Dagestan are parts of Russian Federation (not independent countries) and no Russian leader would/could let their country to begin to disintegrate. Especially important and volatile they see the role of the Muslim regions in the south. To claim that the Chechen wars simply happened to Putin in power are infantile naive western propaganda. We could equally say that US civil war happened to keep A. Lincoln in power.

Sami I have all my life lived near the Russian border, I have visited Russia several times and even know some Russians personally. I suppose I have a clearer picture of what Russia is than those “experts” like you who base your information on American media and propaganda. Surely Russia is no democratic paradise, but it is not a totalitarian dictatorship.

Your lack of knowledge on this subject is quickly exposing you as the amateur you are.

Sami have you really worked here as a moderator? How on earth did they choose a person like you to that job? In Finnish there is a idiom: “Pukki kaalimaan vartijana”, which describes the situation. (translation: “a goat guarding a cabbage patch” meaning the same as in English used “the fox guarding the chicken coop”).

“Grozny is now rebuilt and people seem to be rather OK with the present situation.”

Look at the recent pictures of Grozny using Google and make your own conclusions. Looks pretty impressive to me, certainly more impressive than recent pictures from Detroit. 🙂

This would be an extremely laughable statement were it not at the expense of those living without their family members as a direct result of Russian hegemony in the Caucus. What’s next you telling us how much Makhachkala is a tourist destination while disregarding the fact their own Football Club trains and lives many miles away in Moscow for safety reasons and only go to Makhachkala by plane on game days and are escorted by armed guards to their games?

I suppose important reasons for the FC Anzhi Makhachkala training and living near Moscow are the logistic reasons as much as security issues at home. The competitors in the Russian league are easier to be reached from Moscow (distances in Russia are huge and the better air connections save time). On the other hand do you Sami know who have formed one of the strongest parts of the “larger Russian mafia” (by the way the leadership of Russian Mafia have also Israeli passports)? Chechen mafia, which is said to having contacts to radical Islamic fundamentalists and separatists. Hmmm…

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July 20th, 2013, 6:18 am


171. SimoHurtta said:

A unified european economic sanction against the Russians would also send a strong signal to Moscow to stop allying with this regime.

Well Jürgen what would happen to EU if Russia would be sanctioned for this? Supporting a regime some EU nations and USA do not like – wow. What if Russians sanctioned Germany for not supporting the Syrian regime and would shut the gas pipes and oil? As signal you know.

Russia is vital to Europe with its raw materials and as a market area for EU products. Russia is EU27 trade partner number 3, number two in import and number 4 in export. The figures in euros are absolutely huge.

Without Russian trade Finland’s like Germany’s economies would collapse in weeks or months. Surely the trade with EU is vital also to Russia. But still.

If the biggest oil and gas producer gets sanctioned, then the prices of oil would sky rocket. If EU would threaten Russia with economical boycotts Russia would make conclusions and focus on longer term to Asia (= China, India). Let us be realists EU needs Russia (its lands, markets and raw materials) desperately. Russia is not Israel or Iran which can piloted with EU and US sanctions with little harm to own economies. Russia is to big and to strong for sanctions.

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July 20th, 2013, 7:02 am


172. Alan said:

I advise you to take the scissors and cut off Russia from the map , to obtain a virtual Europe!
you ask:/ Why not pressure the UAE to stop laundry the money of the Assads/:

You must, as a German put all pressure on your German government when you know about the secret contracts with Israel , and when you know about the installation of nuclear missiles in the German Dolphins! You can not look at reality one eye! You are a biased person!I believe that you are a Jewish with Zionist tendencies!

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July 20th, 2013, 8:39 am


173. revenire said:

Nothing Assad did, or didn’t do, would have have stopped the war. No amount of reforms would have prevented it. Unless Assad completely changed Syria’s foreign policy there would have been war. There is no Middle East country I can think of where the Western oligarchy has backed democracy and freedom for its people. The Western backers of the “rebels” care nothing for Syrian lives. They will gladly keep sending weapons until 1,000,000 are dead.

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July 20th, 2013, 9:04 am


174. majedkhaldoun said:

FM of Egypt said he will re evaluate Egypt position in regard to Syria, and Egypt is committed to peaceful process.
Egypt needs KSA support financially,we will see how long it will take him to adjust his statement.

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July 20th, 2013, 9:08 am


175. Alan said:

/ Look at the recent pictures of Grozny using Google and make your own conclusions. Looks pretty impressive to me, certainly more impressive than recent pictures from Detroit. 🙂
Grozny City …

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July 20th, 2013, 9:09 am


176. majedkhaldoun said:

Revenir #173
You are wrong, Assad could have punished Atef Najeeb for his treatment of the children, and the whole thing could have been averted

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July 20th, 2013, 9:12 am


177. revenire said:

No, I’m not wrong. Published documents prove me right.

This has nothing to do with Atef Najeeb, or any abuses committed by security forces.

Assad could have tortured the entire nation – with the full blessing of the West – as long has he played ball with them on foreign policy.

The Western oligarchy cares nothing for life. Look at Detroit. They let their own people die without health care, without jobs, they allow Wall St. to rob their pensions. Why would they care about a few 100,000 dead Syrians?

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July 20th, 2013, 9:45 am


178. omen said:

Secretary of State


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July 20th, 2013, 9:55 am


179. don said:

Friday is day of protest in Egypt. They came all the way from Saudi Arabia where women are second class citizen to support the Morsi regime’s democracy!

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July 20th, 2013, 10:10 am


180. Alan said:

Syria’s Terrorist, Dalia Shimon 25 years Mossad agent and a female soldier in the Israel DF (IDF) from the Tel Aviv areaSyria’s Terrorist, Dalia Shimon 25 years Mossad agent and a female soldier in the Israel DF (IDF) from the Tel Aviv areaSyria’s Terrorist, Dalia Shimon 25 years Mossad agent and a female soldier in the Israel DF (IDF) from the Tel Aviv areaSyria’s Terrorist, Dalia Shimon 25 years Mossad agent and a female soldier in the Israel DF (IDF) from the Tel Aviv areaSyria’s Terrorist, Dalia Shimon 25 years Mossad agent and a female soldier in the Israel DF (IDF) from the Tel Aviv area

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July 20th, 2013, 10:17 am


181. don said:

The PKK is saying NOW Erdogan!

Kurdish PKK rebels tell Turkey to implement reforms

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) said in a statement that “concrete steps” should be taken “in the shortest time”.

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July 20th, 2013, 10:28 am


182. majedkhaldoun said:

The circumstances were ripe for such revolution, ,if you study this revolution, it started with these children, who witnessed the Tunisian and Egyptian revolution, people in Deraa and in Horan generally were supportive of Assad many of his army officers were from that area, many of his political advisors, were from this area, Farooq al Shara, Miqdad and others like Rustum Ghazaleh, once their children were tortured and mistreated by Atef Najeeb, they suddenly converted against Assad,that is where the revolution started Assad mishandled this incident in an enviroment that Arab spring was glorified by the media, that was his mistake and that proved that he is inept president with poor judgement

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July 20th, 2013, 10:37 am


183. don said:

Turkey, Russia ties at standstill as balances shift in Middle East

Murat Bilhan, former diplomat and the vice chairman of the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM), said in remarks to Today’s Zaman. “Turkey should carefully follow the interests of Russia in the region and should seek for ways to cooperate, as soon as possible”.

With the advantage that Assad’s forces have taken militarily, a scenario of a transition period without him grows more and more remote, making it much more difficult for the opposition to want to sit at the same table with the Syrian regime.

Meanwhile, the recent military coup in Egypt that ousted President Mohammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government has been a positive development for Russia, in contrast to Turkey’s position on the military intervention. Morsi’s government in Egypt was behind the opposition struggle in Syria, and for the opposition to lose a serious ally in Egypt has surely played into the hands of Russia. The recent military coup, which seems to have erased political gains from the Arab Spring period, is an opportunity for Russia to reconstruct its relations with Egypt. Russia had never looked positively upon the developments that evolved into the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

An issue of contention between Russia and Turkey may be related to a potential Russian assistance to Greek Cyprus in its financial crisis. Analysts say that Russia might consider a financial aid plan for Greek Cyprus in exchange for economic and military gains.

One scenario is that Russian gas giant Gazprom is planning to bail out Nicosia in return for a share in the island’s Aphrodite gas field — believed to hold 200 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Ankara, however, has long warned the Greek Cypriot government against unilateral moves to extract natural gas and oil reserves off Cyprus, saying that the Turkish Cypriots, who run their own state in the north of the island, also have a say on these reserves. Turkish officials have even suggested that if the Greek Cypriot administration insists on grabbing these reserves for itself, then Turkey will intervene militarily.

There is also talk of Russia moving its naval base in Syria to Cyprus in exchange for a bailout. Turkey has also stated its opposition to such scenario, saying this is against international law.

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July 20th, 2013, 10:39 am


184. Akbar Palace said:

Ok, quiz question time. How many of you think the ME is in such turmoil because of Israel and the occupation?

If you agree, then if a peace treaty and final settlement is signed, then it follows that peace will then come to the rest of the ME? No?

And now a public message from the BBC:

“Settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”


IMHO, your last post is 100% correct.


Your last post was great. We now know why so many Syrians have perished these past 2 years.

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July 20th, 2013, 10:50 am


185. omen said:

follow #LivefromSyria

coverage of displaced syrians.

includes some english.

support if you can!

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July 20th, 2013, 11:01 am


186. Alan said:

Is it lawful to peace in the Middle East without Syria? Ask McCain, oh oops I mean Kissinger!

John McCain on His Meeting With Obama, Middle East Tour, and Syria

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July 20th, 2013, 11:15 am


187. don said:

Turkish Spring

Instability casts cloud over Turkish economy

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July 20th, 2013, 11:49 am


188. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Remeber how the revolution was repressed in the first days

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July 20th, 2013, 11:52 am


189. revenire said:

Majed, and others, ample documentation proves the “revolution” started back as far back as the 1970s.

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July 20th, 2013, 11:52 am


190. Ziad said:


In defending takfiris killing innocent unarmed Shia men, women, and children in their mosques said:
“we Sunni call Shiaa Kuffar, there is the whole truth in calling your group Kuffar, what we are saying is what God said in Quraan about the Shiaa,”

Then quoted the Quran (Zumar 3) as:

“الا لله الدين الخالص,والذين يتخذون من دون الله اولياء ….ان الله لا يهدي من كان كاذبا كفارا”

The whole of ayah Zumar 3 says:

أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَىٰ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّار

For non Arabic readers here is the translation of the Ayah according to Yusuf Ali:

Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due? But those who take for protectors other than Allah (say): “We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah.” Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ. But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful.

Majed deceptively omits an essential middle phrase to make his argument. What he replaced with “…” says:

مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَىٰ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُون

“We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah.” Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ.”

There are two essential relevant points contained in this omitted phrase:

1 – No sane person can accuse the Shia with:

مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَى

“We only serve them in order that they may bring us nearer to Allah.”

2 – It is not any body’s business to judge. It is only Allah who will judge them.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَحْكُمُ بَيْنَهُمْ فِي مَا هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُون
“Truly Allah will judge between them in that wherein they differ.”

For me there is another conclusion in this ayah that applies to the ignorant deceiver Majed:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّار

But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful.

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July 20th, 2013, 11:56 am


191. majedkhaldoun said:

Yes Revenir infact according to you the revolution started before Christ was born

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July 20th, 2013, 11:58 am


192. revenire said:

Majed sorry but this was written about in great detail and from many sources.

The same Muslim Brotherhood enemy from Hama in 1982 is now attacking Syria. The same foreign powers are aiding the enemy.

It has nothing to do with children demonstrating, freedom or corruption. Of course you will say “oh, the poor innocent demonstrators” etc. but that is a fairy tale.

The most corrupt governments on the planet are for Assad leaving. That alone says it all.

We’ve been over this 1000 times.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:16 pm


193. don said:

Egypt to reevaluate Syria ties after coup

CAIRO (AP) – Egypt is reevaluating its relationship with Syria following the military’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the country’s foreign minister said Saturday.

In his first public comments since becoming Egypt’s top diplomat, Nabil Fahmy said Cairo continues to support the Syrian uprising but that Egypt has no intention of supporting a jihad – or holy war – in Syria.

Since Morsi’s ouster, his critics have accused Syrians living in Egypt of participating in the protests calling for him to be reinstated. Television networks critical of Morsi aired allegations that his Muslim Brotherhood backers were paying Syrian refugees to take part in pro-Morsi protests.

Cairo’s new military-backed interim government swiftly imposed travel restrictions on Syrians, who for decades were able to enter Egypt without a visa.

The arrest of at least six Syrians accused of taking part in violent street clashes further fanned the flames.

“We are neither enemies nor allies with anybody,” Fahmy said of Cairo’s ties with other nations.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:19 pm


194. SANDRO LOEWE said:

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July 20th, 2013, 12:26 pm


195. majedkhaldoun said:

Your translation is false,
أَلَا لِلَّهِ الدِّينُ الْخَالِصُ
The translation should be the religion and worshipping should be for God ONLY
وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ
Those who worship people(who are Zull or Way below God) as Awliyaa,means holy people has connection to God,
Then there is explanatory sentence it explains what these people say, they say we worship those Awliyaa to bring us close to God, God will judge them, but at the end God says
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَنْ هُوَ كَاذِبٌ كَفَّار

God will not guide who is a lier and infidel Kafer, this is reference to those wo worship Awliyaa
It is clear that God says those who worship people as Awliyaa are liers and Kuffar

The main problem that you try to deceive people by misinterpreting Quraan, and as in Suret Al Umran God says
فاما الذين في قلوبهم زيغ فيتبعون ما تشابه منه ابتغاء الفتنه
THis interpretation you said is changing the words of God because you want sedition

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July 20th, 2013, 12:27 pm


196. majedkhaldoun said:

Also I am in no way defending killing innocent people, this is a lie by you, in Islam LA IKraha Fi Aldeen, there is no coersion in Islam, stop lying

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July 20th, 2013, 12:30 pm


197. majedkhaldoun said:

Ziad where you mis interpreted Quraan is
1-“Is it not to Allah that sincere devotion is due”
The right translation Religion and worship is ONLY to God

2-“But Allah guides not such as are false and ungrateful.”
There is no false and ungrateful the words are clear Lier and Infidel

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July 20th, 2013, 12:38 pm


198. Ziad said:


This is not my translation

My argument against you does not rely on the translation. We both understand perfectly the language of the Quraan.

Fact is: You are a deceiver and a fabricator by omitting the very relevant middle section of the Ayah.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:51 pm


199. SANDRO LOEWE said:

* We are facing the destruction of a popular peacefull revolution that has become armed revolution.

* Also we see the destruction of a whole country, the displacement of 7.000.000 people. And the death of at least 120.000 more.

* Russia, Iran and HA in Lebanon send all their men and weapons as well as financial aid.

* And design a plan that it is beginning to take shape that will convert Syria and Lebanon into chiite countries without christians and sunnis in the long term like happened in Iran.

But Israel and US cannot do nothing. They could kill Nasralah and Assad in 5 minutes but they cannot do it for unknown reasons. The whole Middle East is going to become a 20 years war between countries and US and Israel cannot do anything and have no interest in doing anything.

***** Doesn’t it sound strange? *******

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July 20th, 2013, 12:54 pm


200. ghufran said:

I never looked at Bashar as a strong and thoughtful leader, his initial response to Daraa protests and the first two speeches he gave solidified his status as a figurehead dictator who represents a mafia family that makes decisions by consensus, democracy only exists in the inner circle surrounding Assad, that circle does not include the PM-Halaqi but it incudes the chiefs of security services, his brother, his cousin and his uncle.
Bashar lacked the vision, experience and legitimacy to lead a country like Syria, he will be remembered by his actions and inactions which were instrumental in the destruction of the Syrian nation, it will take decades for Syria to stand up again.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
― John F. Kennedy
This is far more serious than anything we have been arguing about:


Syria’s Kurds are planning to create a temporary autonomous government to administer Kurdish regions in the north of the war-torn country, Kurdish officials told Agence France Presse on Friday.
“We think that the crisis in Syria will not end anytime soon, so we need to create democratic self-rule in western Kurdistan,” said Salih Muslim, head of Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
Western Kurdistan refers to Kurdish majority areas in northern Syria, including Hassakah province in the northeast of the country and parts of Aleppo province.
“This has been our project since 2007,” added Muslim, stressing nonetheless that the government would be temporary.
“This is provisional,” he said. “Once there is a broad agreement on the future of Syria, we will put an end to this autonomy.”
Shirzad Izidi, a spokesman for the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan, another Syrian Kurdish group, confirmed the plans and said the Kurdish administration will take measures to organize elections in Kurdish areas.
“There is an idea also to write an interim constitution so that there will be no vacuum,” Izidi told AFP.

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July 20th, 2013, 12:58 pm


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