Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist organization al Qaeda, has been joining ranks in some parts of Syria with rebel groups that were once the country’s main recipients of U.S. weapons.
The two sides are banding together in key areas, including the outskirts of the capital Damascus and northern Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, rebels fighting in Aleppo told International Business Times. That coordination has given the opposition more military might in the fight against President Bashar Assad, but is also sending a worrying message back to the Obama administration: The weapons it once provided to Syrian rebels may now end up in the hands of the very extremists it wants to quash, such as the Islamic State group.
Washington now has to worry not only about American weapons getting into the hands of al Qaeda-linked groups but also about them reaching the Islamic State group. According to Syrian fighters, Jabhat al-Nusra, aka the Nusra Front, is working alongside the militant group formerly known as ISIL or ISIS in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside Damascus to defeat the Assad regime’s military and local Palestinian factions. Some reports have hinted the Nusra Front may have even pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in Yarmouk.
If the collaboration between the Nusra Front and the Islamic State group in Yarmouk, close to downtown Damascus, becomes a model followed in other parts of Syria, the opposition to Assad will consist almost exclusively of ultraradical Islamists. The U.S. will be left without any credible faction to back in the fight against the regime, and its top enemy in the region, the Islamic State group, will be strengthened.