Fighters affiliated with the U.S. taxpayer funded rebel group Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, cut a 13-year old boy’s head off in the back of a truck in Syria.
Zenki fighters claim the boy was caught fighting for the Syrian regime and the group’s communications arm condemned the action and blamed the international community. The group no longer receives U.S. taxpayer funded aid, but until early 2015, received TOW missiles and other important armaments.
Amnesty International released a scathing report July 4 detailing numerous human rights violations by Syrian rebel groups in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces. The general dysfunction on the Syrian battlefield makes U.S. options on the ground increasingly muddied as the five-year civil war continues to drag on.
Those rebel groups, which are currently backed by the U.S. government, continue to suffer setbacks in their fight against the Islamic State. Reports surfaced July 7, that the Pentagon removed air support from one of its premier anti-ISIS groups, the New Syrian Army, mid-fight. The group was decimated and had to retreat to safe territory near the Jordanian border.
The group’s extremist actions highlight a broader trend taking place on the Syrian battlefield, as moderate groups are slowly pulled into the clutches of al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabat Al Nusra. The Washington Post reports Jabat Al Nusra is unifying the Sunni opposition against the Assad Regime, and that its unification of the movement will allow it to establish an emirate throughout all of northwestern Syria.
President Barack Obama’s solution is to work with Russia, and by default the Assad regime, against Jabat Al Nusra. The deal will coordinate U.S.-Russian airstrikes in Syria and if successful, will degrade the only effective battlefield force against the Assad regime. The deal essentially entails conceding to Russian demands in Syria, and will likely secure Assad’s position for years to come.
The success of the deal remains in serious question. Jabat Al Nusra has capitalized on radicalizing previously moderate Sunni groups by exploiting Sunni’s hatred of the Assad regime. Sunni populations of Syria have been decimated by the Assad regime’s indiscriminate bombing of civil neighborhoods. Extremist groups are able to draw upon the Sunni population’s hatred of Assad for popular support, funding, and safe haven.
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