Syria: nearly half rebel fighters are jihadists or hardline Islamists, says IHS Jane’s report
September 15, 2013
The new study by IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, estimates there are around 10,000 jihadists – who would include foreign fighters – fighting for powerful factions linked to al-Qaeda..
Another 30,000 to 35,000 are hardline Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists, but are focused purely on the Syrian war rather than a wider international struggle.
ISIS has also begun a programme of “indoctrination” of civilians in rebel-held areas, trying to educate Syria’s traditionally moderate Sunni Muslims into a more hard-line interpretation of Islam.
In early September, the group distributed black backpacks with the words “Islamic State of Iraq” stamped on them. They also now control schools in Aleppo where young boys are reportedly taught to sing jihadist anthems.
“It seems it is some sort of a long-term plan to brainwash the children and recruit potential fighters,” said Elie Wehbe, a Lebanese journalists who is conducting research into these activities.