'Moderate' Syrian rebels highly critical of US airstrikes, policy

A little more evidence that the president's bombing campaign in Syria is mostly for show, and that its chances of working are close to zero.

Our supposed allies in Syria, the "moderate," secular opposition, is taking a rather dim view of our efforts so far, and are growing angry about civilian casualties and the administration's lack of follow through in arming the Free Syrian Army.

David Kenner writing in Foreign Policy, relates the story of an FSA-affiliated commander whose original success in capturing large tracts of land from Syrian government forces was frittered away in the last year as ISIS forces swept through areas under his control. America didn't support him then and we're not supporting him now. And, by his lights, we're not doing much to fight ISIS but we're doing a lot to anger civilians.

But Abu Khalaf's hatred of the Islamic State doesn't mean he supports the U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the group. He is scathing in discussing U.S. strategy in Syria: The Islamic State fighters, he says, have hidden in civilian areas, meaning that the American air attacks are only liable to bring another tragedy for the Syrian people.

"Did you see what they did, hitting the grain silo?" he asked, referring to an alleged attack in Aleppo province. "They are just making another tragedy for civilians. Shame on them."

Deir Ezzor, in northeast Syria, has been a prime target since the U.S.-led airstrikes on the Islamic State began on Sept. 22. The strikes have been focused on the oil facilities in the province, which provide the Islamic State with much of its funds.

America's most plausible allies on the ground in Deir Ezzor, however, remain critical of the international effort. Foreign Policy interviewed six FSA commanders from the province who are currently exiled by the Islamic State and hiding out in southeastern Turkey. All of them were arrested at some point by the jihadist group; some were tortured. They all agree that the U.S. airstrikes in their home country are a bad idea.

FSA fighters and commanders complained to Foreign Policy that they have received no increase in support since the international effort to combat the Islamic State began, despite promises from the Obama administration that the United States would begin supplying arms to the rebels. The FSA fighters also disparaged the airstrikes, saying they would mainly kill civilians and give the Assad regime a chance to gain ground.

Anti-Assad Syrian civilians have echoed this opposition. While Islamists have seized on the attacks to brand U.S. President Barack Obama as an "enemy of God," even the traditionally secular protesters in the town of Kafr Anbel held a poster blasting the coalition for killing civilians.

Perhaps before we settled on a policy in Syria we should have consulted these people? Nah - that makes too much sense. Because if we're not going to help the most visible of the secular opposition to ISIS and Assad, just who is it that will benefit from our training and arms?

Wasting a $3 million J-Dam on a grain silo? Yeah - that's a great way to win friends and influence people.War policy is in the hands of the Three Stooges.

 

A little more evidence that the president's bombing campaign in Syria is mostly for show, and that its chances of working are close to zero.

Our supposed allies in Syria, the "moderate," secular opposition, is taking a rather dim view of our efforts so far, and are growing angry about civilian casualties and the administration's lack of follow through in arming the Free Syrian Army.

David Kenner writing in Foreign Policy, relates the story of an FSA-affiliated commander whose original success in capturing large tracts of land from Syrian government forces was frittered away in the last year as ISIS forces swept through areas under his control. America didn't support him then and we're not supporting him now. And, by his lights, we're not doing much to fight ISIS but we're doing a lot to anger civilians.

But Abu Khalaf's hatred of the Islamic State doesn't mean he supports the U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the group. He is scathing in discussing U.S. strategy in Syria: The Islamic State fighters, he says, have hidden in civilian areas, meaning that the American air attacks are only liable to bring another tragedy for the Syrian people.

"Did you see what they did, hitting the grain silo?" he asked, referring to an alleged attack in Aleppo province. "They are just making another tragedy for civilians. Shame on them."

Deir Ezzor, in northeast Syria, has been a prime target since the U.S.-led airstrikes on the Islamic State began on Sept. 22. The strikes have been focused on the oil facilities in the province, which provide the Islamic State with much of its funds.

America's most plausible allies on the ground in Deir Ezzor, however, remain critical of the international effort. Foreign Policy interviewed six FSA commanders from the province who are currently exiled by the Islamic State and hiding out in southeastern Turkey. All of them were arrested at some point by the jihadist group; some were tortured. They all agree that the U.S. airstrikes in their home country are a bad idea.

FSA fighters and commanders complained to Foreign Policy that they have received no increase in support since the international effort to combat the Islamic State began, despite promises from the Obama administration that the United States would begin supplying arms to the rebels. The FSA fighters also disparaged the airstrikes, saying they would mainly kill civilians and give the Assad regime a chance to gain ground.

Anti-Assad Syrian civilians have echoed this opposition. While Islamists have seized on the attacks to brand U.S. President Barack Obama as an "enemy of God," even the traditionally secular protesters in the town of Kafr Anbel held a poster blasting the coalition for killing civilians.

Perhaps before we settled on a policy in Syria we should have consulted these people? Nah - that makes too much sense. Because if we're not going to help the most visible of the secular opposition to ISIS and Assad, just who is it that will benefit from our training and arms?

Wasting a $3 million J-Dam on a grain silo? Yeah - that's a great way to win friends and influence people.War policy is in the hands of the Three Stooges.