Turkey and the United States have recently signed an agreement to train and equip 2,000 fighters of the “moderate” Syrian opposition, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News. The training of these forces of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) will begin “late December” at the Turkish Gendarmerie´s Kirsehir Training Center, located 150 kilometers southeast of the Turkish capital, Ankara, added the Turkish newspaper mentioning unidentified sources.
The training of these militants will be carried out by Turkish and American military, but the equipment and the cost of the training will be entirely paid by the US, wrote Hürriyet. The final details of the plan were agreed at a meeting between the military leaders of the two countries.
Shortly aft.er, The Washington Post indicated that the US government has been studying plans to increase the CIA’s role in arming and training “moderate” (a term meaning they are willing to surrender their country to Western powers) terrorists in Syria, a move aimed at escalating covert US support. For its part, the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases, US officials said. According to the Post, “the proposed CIA buildup would expand a covert mission that has grown substantially over the past year”.” The agency now arms and trains about 400 rebels each month” and a similar number is expected “to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year”.
However, this strategy is now facing the first obstacles. Firstly, it has led the ISIL and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front to sign an alliance in order to fight both the Syrian Army and the US-backed forces. Both groups, the largest ones of the Syrian terrorist camp, agreed in a meeting held on November 2 in northern Syrian town of Atareb not to fight against one another and cooperate against their common enemies.
Before the US started its airstrikes in Syria in September, ISIL and The Nusra Front were fierce enemies who fought each other to dominate the insurgency. The US air war targeting both groups, however, have persuaded them to cooperate against their mutual enemy. Such an agreement will present more difficulties for the American strategy against ISIL. The union of both groups will make them more effective against US-backed rebels, who are already considered weak and disorganized.
The Nusra Front has already almost wiped out the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Hazm Movement, two rebel groups armed and trained by the United States. On November 1, SRF surrendered after the fall of Deir Sinbal, its main stronghold in Syria, and agreed to hand over all their weapons and bases to The Nusra Front. Other dozen rebel-controlled villages in the Idlib province were also captured. “As a movement, the SRF is effectively finished,” said Aymen al-Tammimi, a Syrian analyst, to the Daily Telegraph. “Nusra has driven them out of their strongholds of Idlib and Hama.”
The captured US weapons included anti-tank missiles and GRAD rockets, which added to the sizable stock of US weapons now in the hands of ISIL and The Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria. Despite being small factions within the terrorist camp in Syria, the US gave SRF and the Hazm Movement large amounts of advanced weapons.
The following day, the Harakat Movement also surrendered their military bases and weapons to The Nusra Front, when the latter seized the villages it controlled in northern Idlib province. ISIL sent 100 fighters to help The Nusra Front to take over the town of Khan al Sunbul in northern Syria but their intervention became unnecessary because the Hazm Movement surrendered without fighting and 65 of its militants defected to The Nusra Front.
The Nusra Front also took over the town of Minnig in Aleppo Province, on the outskirts of the city. Its fighters ordered all other US-backed rebels there to disband and turn their weaponry over to them,. As a result, there are already only two effective fighting forces in the Aleppo province now: The Nusra Front and the Syrian Army.
Another report by Associated Press confirmed that the “moderate rebels” that Washington is trying to boost “are instead hemorrahaging on multiple fronts”. Some of their leaders have been killed. “This is the end of the Free Syrian Army,” said Alaa al-Deen, an opposition activist in Idlib, referring to Western-backed militant groups. He added that in recent weeks dozens of leaders of “moderate” terrorist groups have been eliminated.
For the United States, the defeat of these groups, which had been trying to present as successful examples of its efforts in Syria, is a humiliating blow at the time that the US administration is increasing the training of rebels.
The Syrian population is also becoming fed up of these terrorists who are supported by the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. While Washington has been selling the idea that these people, who largely share the extremist ideology of their new enemies, are “freedom fighters” Syrian people consider them just as terrorists, bandits and brutal exploiters. In Douma, the main rebel stronghold in Eastern Gouta, near Damascus, several clashes occurred on November 14 after an attack by the inhabitants of the city against a grocery store controlled by a rebel group.
According to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, the riots began when residents of the Syrian city tried to break into the store in charge of the takfiri group “Army of Islam” affiliated to the so-called Islamic Front. Both are led by Zahran Allush, an agent of Saudi Arabia.
“Guardians of the store opened fire on citizens and some of the latter fired, in turn, against them”, a resident said. Several people were injured in the clashes, which continued the following day in parts of Douma. “People are hungry, the city is under siege and the Army of Islam only distributes the food and medicines received from the Red Cross among its members. They charged artificially high prices to the rest of the inhabitants and made people starved. This led residents to rise up”.
On the other hand, the US and Saudi patronage of thSyrian Armyese “moderate rebel groups” have convinced Syrians that they are just mercenaries who seek to impose foreign control over Syria and put an end to the prominent role that the country has played in the Middle East for decades. Therefore, Syrians will fight these forces in order to maintain the independence of their country.
Moreover, US support for terrorist groups in Syria violates the international law, which prohibits states from giving aid to foreign insurgents seeking to overthrow the legal governments of other countries. In this sense, US actions against Syria are a threat for the whole international community and the international legal framework. They are also a proxy war against Syria´s allies, especially Iran, Russia and China.
In short, the new US plans in Syria are only a recognition that the previous strategy against ISIL both in Iraq and Syria has failed. However, instead of drawing the right lessons from this failure, the first of which is that any successful strategy against terrorism in Syria needs the cooperation of the Syrian Army and State, which are the most effective forces in the anti-ISIS fight, the US Administration sticks once and again to the failed strategy of supporting non-existent “moderate rebels”. It means that there is not a new strategy but an escalation that has been going on in recent months and which will become a more serious failure of the US foreign policy.