April 1, 2014
As President Obama was his teleprompter on March 20th to announce sanctions against Russia, Syrian rebel forces led by al Qaeda-linked Islamic Front and Jabhat al-Nusra launched a surprise offensive in northwestern Syria near the Turkish border. The offensive, known as “The Martyrs Mothers,” captured the three area border crossings into Turkey and killed Hilal al Assad, Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s cousin and head of the militia known as the National Defense Force. With the U.S. secretly arming the rebels and President Obama in Saudi Arabia, the new Cold War with Russia is heating up in Syria.
The objective of the Martyrs Mother’s offensive appears to be opening up new supply lines for the Syrian rebels from Turkey. Recently Syrian government forces supplied by Russia and its allies had cut all supply rebel supply lines from Lebanon by launching a series of largely successful offensives across western Syria. Stratfor Global Intelligence reported the Syrian army “currently has the strategic initiative, in large part thanks to Iranian, Russian and Hezbollah aid.” But successfully attacking the Latakia province has high symbolism since it is Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s hometown.
Rebels had been focused on a vicious fight between various rebel groups and their former ally, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But in recent weeks, rebels from the Islamic Front, Free Syrian Army, and Jabhat al-Nusra Islamic State ejected the Islamic State out of the Latakia and Aleppo areas.The United States and Great Britain had both suspended “lethal” aid to northern Syria in last summer after reports of Islamist fighters seizing Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses. But Reuters News reported nonlethal aid was resumed to civilian groups in that region in late December.