The last moderate rebel groups fighting against the al-Assad government have surrendered to al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda spawned terror group aligned with the Islamic State.
US-backed rebels routed by Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra in northern Syria. America's Syria strategy has collapsed. http://t.co/za4wSZBrwO
— Liz Sly (@LizSly) November 3, 2014
Harakat Hazam and the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF) handed over bases and weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra in the Idlib province in Syria over the weekend.
“As a movement, the SRF is effectively finished,” said Aymen al-Tammimi, a Syria analyst. “Nusra has driven them out of their strongholds of Idlib and Hama.”
On Friday al-Nusra captured Deir Sinbal, the hometown of Jamal Maarouf, the leader of the SRF, described as a “moderate” group that has received weapons from the United States, including Grad rockets and Tow anti-tank missiles. In April, Maarouf told The Independent his group conducted operations with al-Nusra.
According to Barak Barfi, a research fellow for the New America Foundation, al-Nusra receives weapons indirectly from SRF.
The Telegraph reports:
It was not immediately clear if American Tow missiles were among the stockpile surrendered to Jabhat al-Nusra on Saturday. However, several Jabhat al-Nusra members on Twitter announced that they were. The loss of a group that had been held up as an example of Western efforts to court moderate rebel factions is a humiliating blow for Washington. In Idlib, Harakat Hazm gave up their positions to Jabhat al-Nusra “without firing a shot,” according to some reports, and some of the men even defected to the jihadists.
The fiction there was a moderate rebel presence in Syria served as cover for the transfer of weapons to jihadist groups by the United States and the Gulf Emirates.
“The Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Council, the vaunted bulwarks of the moderate opposition, only really exist in hotel lobbies and the minds of Western diplomats,” writes Ben Reynolds. “There is simply no real separation between ‘moderate’ rebel groups and hardline Salafists allied with al-Qaeda.”
The collapse of the moderate rebel fiction will be used to push for more direct involvement by the United States in Syria, including so-called boots on the ground. The neocon wing of the Republican party will push hard for a more hands-on approach after Republicans recapture the Senate later this week.
The attacks on Syrian oil are “being couched as an effort to cut off ISIS funding, but the oil wells and other infrastructure being targeted are actually privately owned, and the attacks are badly damaging the civilian economy across Syria,” writes Jason Ditiz.
“As winter nears prices are soaring, and not just on fuel. Knock-on effects have raised the price of almost everything, including basic food. The prices of grain are no doubt also effected by US airstrikes on grain silos in the north,” Ditz notes.
The Pentagon used similar tactics in both Iraq wars. “The intention and effort of the bombing of civilian life and facilities was to systematically destroy Iraq’s infrastructure leaving it in a preindustrial condition,” a report to the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal in 1992 stated. The air campaign “left Iraq in a near apocalyptic condition” and this result is also sought in Syria.
The primary goal in Syria is to take out Bashar al-Assad and decimate the Syrian economy, not destroy the Islamic State, a terrorist group funded and trained by the United States and its partners.
The fall of Harakat Hazam and the SRF is inconsequential. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.S. will continue to covertly arm ISIS until the objective of overthrowing al-Assad and fragmenting and balkanizing Syria and Iraq is accomplished.