US-backed forces in Syria suffer big setback
McClatchy Foreign StaffNovember 1,
2014 Updated 3 hours ago
In this Monday, Oct. 20, 2014 file
photo, thick smoke and flames from an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition rise
in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the
Turkey-Syria border. With the Syrian civil war in its fourth ruinous year,
there is no end in sight, hundreds of thousands are dead, and millions have
been displaced. The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group, after
more than a month, is limited to airstrikes and has not dislodged the radical
group from a single major town it controls in Syria or Iraq.
LEFTERIS PITARAKIS — AP
Al Qaida-backed militants Saturday stormed the base of the most prominent
civilian commander in the U.S.-backed Syrian rebel force, forcing him and his
fighters to flee into hiding in the Jebal al Zawiya mountains of northern
Jamal Maarouf, a contractor in
private life, became internationally known for leading the successful offensive
in January that forced the Islamic State from most of two northern provinces.
His ouster from his own village was an enormous setback for him, the rebel
forces and his international backers.
Even more ominous was that that the
Islamic State, now far stronger and claiming to run a Caliphate in Syria and
Iraq, reportedly had joined Jabhat al Nusra in the attack on the village of
The Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, a London-based opposition monitoring group, said Islamic State fighters
had arrived from the east of Syria to join the al Qaida affiliate in the fight
against Maarouf’s Revolutionaries of Syria Front.
And Mahmoud al Ugal, a commander in
Marouf’s force, told McClatchy that the militant fighters had deployed at least
20 heavy machine guns. He said the Nusra fighters used tanks, mortars and
Chechen snipers in the battle for Deir Sinbul, Maarouf’s home town.
Ugal said the fighters had traveled
by convoy across the Syrian desert, an assertion that coincided with
information McClatchy obtained from another Syrian rebel commander early in the
week as the convoy was reportedly setting out. McClatchy contacted both the
U.S. Central Command and Pentagon officials for comment on the report, but
neither could confirm it.
If Islamic State fighters in fact
joined Nusra in the attack, it will have major repercussions for the war in
Syria, for the two groups have been divided since April 2013, when Abu Bakr al
Baghdadi, the Iraq-based leader, announced the creation of the Islamic State.
Nusra had supported the rebel war against Assad until very recently and also
was at war with the Islamic State.
The Islamic State’s fighters are
mostly foreign volunteers, while Nusra’s forces consist largely of Syrian
The latest developments also raise
the question whether the U.S., which daily bombards jihadist positions in a
small Kurdish enclave in northeastern Syria, was monitoring the other fronts in
the Syrian war where the Islamic State is active.
Saturday’s fighting also confirmed
that rebel forces, led by commanders such as Maarouf, who have been vetted by
the CIA, now are fighting a three-front war against the regime, the Islamic
State and Nusra, with only limited U.S. support.
Rebel leaders earlier this week
pleaded in vain for U.S. help. “The war is widening now, and we are defending
our existence,” Gen. Muhammad Hallak of the Syrian Revolutionary Front told
McClatchy Wednesday. He warned that if the U.S.-led coalition of western and
Arab countries “lets us down, then we will withdraw our forces from the front
with the Islamic State and the regime, and work only to save ourselves.”
Hallak, like Maarouf, has been vetted by the CIA and receives covert U.S.
The battle over Jebel al Zawiya, the
first major stronghold controlled by the Syrian rebels fighting the Assad
regime, began just a week ago. By Saturday Nusra had already captured a dozen
rebel-controlled villages before reaching Deir Sinbul. In a statement on
Twitter, Nusra accused Maarouf of “corruption” and “straying from the path of
Maarouf, in a video released on
YouTube Saturday, said the Islamist forces had been attacking civilians and he
had withdrawn his forces from his village into the mountains in order to save
The rise of Nusra, and its apparent
collaboration with the Islamic State, casts a harsh light on the U.S. approach
to Syria, which has been to bomb the Islamic State, and ignore the internal
conflict between rebel forces and the Assad regime, which gave rise to the
As moderate Syrian allies have lost
ground, Nusra and the Islamic State have been the major gainers. Another
commander in the rebel force told McClatchy that the current situation is the
worst since the creation of the Free Syrian Army, an umbrella organization
uniting locally based factions throughout the country.
He said as a result of the U.S.-led
International Coalition’s decision to bomb the two Islamist groups but do
nothing to stop the Syrian government’s assault on Syrian civilians, rebel
fighters are reluctant to confront Nusra. The official could not be quoted by
name because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. Other rebel
commanders have said that the U.S. bombing has driven Syrian fighters to join
The rebels’ severe setback Saturday
contrasted with the situation in Kobani, about 90 miles to the east, where
rebel units and Iraqi Peshmerga fighters, equipped with heavy weapons, arrived
this past week in preparation for a drive to force the Islamic State to
withdraw from the city. The U.S. led Coalition has mounted nearly 200 air
strikes against Islamic State positions in Kobani, a city whose civilian
population has fled to Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, who’s been publicly sparring with President Obama over the U.S.
approach to the war in Syria, fired his latest salvo over Kobani Friday while
on a visit to Paris for talks with his French counterpart, Francois Hollande.
Erdogan has been extremely reluctant to support the defenders of Kobani, on the
grounds that the town’s rulers are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party
or PKK, which Turkey and the U.S. view as a terrorist group. he’s also been
critical of the U.S. for turning Kobani into the central theater in the war
against the Islamic State.
"Since there are no civilians
in Kobani, where there only 2,000 fighters, why is that place constantly being
bombed? It is impossible to understand,” he said
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man power, weaponry, efficiency of the Generals conducting the fight and the
most important aspect is of inflow of Intelligence and knowledge of the terrain
where fighting is held.
One might be very powerful but fighting with the inhabitants of the
geographically located terrain is slightly or more in disadvantage position
which clearly means an advantage for the other side.
In conventional war defensive force required is less then attacking force and
when the defensive force go on attack on guerrilla tactics it could be any
number with even no weapon.
Therefore, fighting with people of the terrain born and grown up under the
climatic condition having acquired both sufficient manpower and money to go on
for a prolong fight might not be very difficult for them but others already divided and fighting a sectarian war the parties are left with nothing to fight for except to save their lives.
On the other hand the newly formed terrorist groups
joined a hard core terrorist group whom the Mossad trained and equipped ISIS
the Frankenstein with sophisticated weapons and also Transports. It would be
easier for the concerning authorities to deduce the people those who are in advantageous position.
Since it is the Job of the Finance department
therefore it would be better for the concerned authorities to calculate how long US can sustain
combating or help the combat the terrorists without putting the country's
economy in devastation as was the case with the previous regime.
The mighty experienced Generals can fight the war
as would be required to do but the most important responsibility is that of the
congress and the finance department of the government to brief the President
the fact of the sustainability of the Finance and economical position.
However, President has very rightly vowed not to
put boots on ground when Congress and American Public brought down immense
pressure on him to go to Iraq and fight.