Syria in Last 24 Hours: Infighting Intensifies among Rival Militant Groups in Aleppo Province
The infighting between the Al-Nusra Front Takfiri terrorists and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) intensified in the Aleppo countryside in the Northern parts of Syria in the past 24 hours.
The Al-Nusra Front and FSA militants started their heavy clashes in the Western parts of the Aleppo countryside on Thursday morning.
Also in the past 24 hours, a leading Pakistani newspaper reported that a man believed to be a Pakistani commander of the ISIL terrorist group had confessed to law enforcement agencies in Pakistan to getting funds via the United States.
“During investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organization in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria,” a source close to the investigations revealed to Urdu-language Daily Express on condition of anonymity.
The newspaper also claimed that Al Salafi was in fact arrested last year sometime in December.
Al Salafi also allegedly confessed to recruiting militants to send them to Syria and was receiving about $600 per person. He also admitted that he had been working with a Pakistani accomplice.
“The US has been condemning the ISIL activities but unfortunately has not been able to stop funding of these organizations, which is being routed through the US. The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests and that is why it launched offensive against the organization in Iraq but not in Syria,” a source said.
However, it was not made clear where exactly the funds came from within the US.
“Yes that is true as this issue was raised several times in the local media and even in the diplomatic corridors between US and Pakistan and there was media reporters here suggesting that hundreds of recruits have been exported to strain from Pakistan,” a security source in Pakistan told Sputnik news agency.
The sources who spoke to the Express Tribune also revealed that the awkward revelations had been revealed to US Secretary of State John Kerry on his recent trip to Islamabad.
“The matter was also taken up with CENTCOM (US Central Command) chief, General Lloyd Austin, during his visit to Islamabad earlier this month,” a source said.
Another source told Reuters last week that Al-Salafi is a Pakistani-Syrian who came to Pakistan via Turkey five months ago and that he had established an ISIL group in Pakistan.
Meantime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “political dialogue” is the only way to end the deadly Syrian crisis.
“I believe that we can all agree on one thing, and that is we can solve the Syrian crisis only through political dialogue. And how to conduct the dialogue should be decided by the Syrian people,” said Lavrov in a press conference on the sidelines of the Syrian peace talks in the Russian capital Moscow.
The Russian official added any foreign interference in Syria would only complicate the situation as foreign forces only seek their own interests.
“Any mediation plans forced upon the Syrian people by foreign forces could be dangerous, and they would just reflect the geographical political interests of those who pushed forward the plans,” he stated.
However, Lavrov admitted that finding a solution to the Syrian crisis will be a long and complex process, requiring both the opposition and the Syrian government to be ready to make concessions.
On Monday, the Syrian government representatives and opposition parties began their four-day negotiations in Moscow in a bid to resume long-stalled peace talks.
Six members of the Syrian government have met with 32 members of various opposition groups in an attempt to stop almost four years of conflict in the Arab country.
The last round of talks between a Syrian government delegation and the opposition was mediated by the United Nations and held in the Swiss city of Geneva in February last year. The talks came to an end without any tangible results.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, according to reports. New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.