Al Qaeda Terrorists Take Key Military Base in Syria
Rebel fighters from two Islamist brigades took control of a key Syrian military air base on Saturday.
The base is located close to the strategically important southern international highway – an important supply route into the capital Damascus. For many months there has little progress for either side in the battle for Damascus, as rebels and government forces slug it out in a long war of attrition. Increasingly it seems as if the fate of Damascus may be decided by events outside the capital itself – and controlling supply routes is a key part of this.
The Syrian army’s 38th division air defence base was overrun by rebel fighters from al Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade on Saturday, after more than two weeks of fighting. Al Nusra Front was founded by leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and is suspected of retaining close links to Al Qaeda. It has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States and is composed primarily of foreign jihadists from around the world. The power and reputation of Al Nusra Front has grown steadily throughout the civil war in Syria, and it is now arguably the most powerful rebel brigade fighting against the government of Bashar al Assad.
Since the beginning of the civil war Assad’s government has characterized the rebels as foreign terrorists, whereas western governments have generally viewed them as freedom fighters trying to topple an oppressive ‘regime’ (in journalism speak, btw, ’regime’ means any government the writer thinks, or has been told to think, should be toppled).
The United States, Britain and France have sent non-lethal supplies to rebels, threatened direct military intervention to support them, and in the case of Britain and France pushed for an end to the EU arms embargo so that they can send weapons as well. The longer the war continues, however, the more it seems as if most significant rebel victories are being led by an organisation which the United States itself admits is made up of foreign terrorists.
This does seem quite strange, but then again the US did help to create Al Qaeda in the first place - so I suppose it should not seem so strange to see them fighting on the same side now.
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