Obama discovers the "crazy" Islamists are taking
over from "moderate" Islamists.
(Reuters News) - Syrian rebels from an Islamist alliance formed last month have occupied bases and warehouses belonging to a Western-backed rebel group on the Turkish border, rebels and activists said on Saturday.
Fighters from the Islamic Front, a union of six major rebel groups, took control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) bases at the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the northwestern border with Turkey late on Friday night, the opposition sources said.
Louay Meqdad, an FSA spokesman, said the Islamic Front fighters had entered the bases after saying they wanted to help to secure them. They then asked officers and employees to leave and replaced an FSA flag with one of their own, he said.
"We believe that those brigades are our brothers, that they know that we are not the enemy," Meqdad said.
Infighting among Syria's rebel groups has undermined their fight against President Bashar al-Assad in the 2-1/2-year-old civil war and made Western governments hesitant to back them.
The rise of hardline Islamist groups among the rebels, including some linked to al Qaeda, has also unsettled powers such as the United States, who fear that if the militants came to power, they would eventually turn their weapons on Western targets.
On Tuesday the Islamic Front said it had withdrawn from the military command of the FSA, notionally charged with coordinating the war, and criticized its leadership.
While the Islamic Front does not include either of Syria's two al Qaeda-affiliated units - the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - it does include radical Islamists who have coordinated with them.
(Reuters) – Armed with machine guns, black-clad al Qaeda fighters drove their pick-ups calmly into the northern Syrian town and took over its imposing agriculture ministry building.
They beheaded a sniper from a rival rebel unit, displayed his head in the main square and put roadblocks on major routes.
Not a shot was fired in the takeover, in which informants, including a preacher from a local mosque, played key roles.
The scene in Termanin, recounted by an activist who witnessed it last week, is being repeated in towns along the border with Turkey and at road junctions further inside Syria that have fallen out of President Bashar al-Assad’s control.
Whether through weakness or a desire to focus on Assad, rebel units are making way for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al Qaeda affiliate led by foreigners hardened by guerrilla warfare in Iraq, Chechnya and Libya.
Lessons From Libya
Asked about the group's goals, an ISIL commander in the town of Armanaz in northern Syria who had fought in Libya said it is fighting for "the downfall of the tyrant Bashar" but also seeking to impose Islamic law.
Learning lessons from the 2011 war in Libya, he said ISIL was more determined to hold on to territory under its control.
"Our mistake as mujahideen is that we were preoccupied with fighting Gaddafi and did not pay enough attention to how to hold on territory," said the commander, who goes by the nickname al-Jazaeri, or the Algerian.