Unraveling Syria: Many Citizen Militias Fighting Against Assad
27 January 2015
By Karin Friedmann
Many good people sincerely believe that the Syrian revolution is a CIA-Mossad
plot against Bashar Assad, who they think is against Israel. Other
well-meaning people are convinced that that ISIS is a CIA-Mossad plot to
undermine the legitimacy of the Free Syrian Army.
''95% of ISIS weapons are from Russia who are likewise arming Assad and
therefore Russia profits both sides of the engineered conflict,'' insisted an
FSA supporter. ''If FSA was supported by USA - then Assad would be gone,
tried and sentenced to death for his war crimes against all of Syria 4 years
ago and ISIS would not exist.''
In order to try and clarify the mystery of whoís who in the Syrian war, I
talked to Ahmed, a Syrian-American opponent of the regime, whose family
members recently fled the country. His family has suffered brutally under the
Assad regime for decades.
He wanted me to be aware that the Syrian uprising began after 40 years of
oppression. Spontaneously in 2011 some young kids in the south of Syria in
the city of Dara wrote ''Freedom! Freedom'' on a wall. They were arrested by
the secret police. One kidís body was returned to his family after being
tortured to death. The other kid was returned alive with his fingers chopped
Protests against the government spread throughout the country over the next
month. Law enforcement shot live ammunition at demonstrators. Townspeople
started gathering to defend the demonstrators with personal arms such as
Within six months, low rank Sunni army personnel started mass defections from
the military, because they did not want to shoot their own people. The high
ranking officers are all Alawite. The ex-military Sunnis turned freedom
fighters started gathering and made connections in border areas in Turkey and
Jordan. The Syrian border with Turkey is mountainous and there are many
villages, which makes it easy to escape. But the border with Iraq is desert
and it is very difficult.
There was no Islamic movement the first year of the uprisings. Only small
arms were used on both sides. The second year, 2012, the Assad regime became
increasingly unstable and started sending in tanks and doing aerial
bombardment of civilian populations. At this point, humanitarian volunteers
from Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq started pouring in for
emotional and religious reasons. The local population welcomed them on an
individual basis. There was no official organization. The people started
grouping and making connections in nearby countries where they could travel
As the movement got bigger, the original freedom fighters who defected from
the army went to retire in nearby countries for a number of reasons: There
was no financial support for their families, and they were not people of high
ideology who want to die for the sake of Islam. Neighboring countries hosted
2000 high ranking Syrian ex-officers to keep as assets to use for future
influence, when it appeared the regime would fall. However, these officers
cannot leave. They are kept in some kind of camps or living quarters..
Then, the Syrian government asked for help from Iran and Lebanonís Hizbollah
to fight for the Shia. The Syrian government is not Shia. Shia is a sect of
Islam. They are Muslims. The Alawite are not Muslims. Historically, France
declared Alawites as Shia. But Syria is not Shia.
Many people mistakenly believe that Syria is defending Al-Aqsa, even though
on the Israel/Syria border, nobody ever tried to attack Israel. This is
Israelís most stable border, protected by Assad. Iraq is under the influence
of Iran. Iran doesnít want Syria to be Sunni.
At this point, there are hundreds of fighting groups, said Ahmed, who says he
truly believes that ISIS was started by foreign agents but lost control
''just like the Taliban.'' The majority of the leaders of ISIS are
high-ranking Iraqi ex-army officials, who used to work for Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi army was the 4th largest army in the world. They are now working
with foreign intelligence and serving in ISIS and getting income from foreign
countries, plus plunder.
Ahmed said that the majority Syrian population does not want a conservative
Islamic state. They are Islamic liberals. They like to have fun. They have no
interest in fundamentalism or ''radical Islam.'' Western injustice and
aggression leads to IS politics, he said.
I asked, ''When there is no government and everything is destroyed, wouldnít
it be natural for the town to meet at the mosque, and if there is no law, it
would be easiest to use Islamic law?''
''People will go back to their natural religion when there is no
infrastructure other than the madrasa,'' stated Ahmed, who has spent
significant time in Afghanistan. However, he did not feel that Syria was
anything like Afghanistan.
In the 1970ís, Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia came to indoctrinate Syrians but
people argued against them. Nevertheless, like Bosnia, Syrians will welcome
those who help to control Syria and establish order and peace.
Ahmed said the west is pushing Syria to the point where they will say,
''Please bring anyone, even another Alawite, to get rid of Assad'' to
stabilize the region. No matter what, it will take 25-50 years to rebuild the
country to what it was.
Regarding the Free Syrian Army, he said there are three kinds: those who gave
up and left the country, those who will fight for whoever pays more, and
those who are controlled by third parties. He had a higher opinion of al-Nusra,
whom he said number in the thousands, not hundreds. The majority of al-Nusra
are Syrians not foreign fighters. They have the best fighters. They have good
individual support but also have influence with high rank people. Both Saudi
Arabia and Jordan try to send their infiltrators to get high ranks to try and
get influence or reward.
The ''sincere fighters'' donít belong to any big party or private agenda. The
majority of Syrian fighters belong to loose small groups. Around Homs and
Damascus, in the revolution areas, there could be 15-20 small groups of 100,
200 or 300 militia men for every local area. Some groups make Islamic council
and unify with groups like al-Nusra or Ahrar al Sham.
I mentioned the news that Iranian General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was killed
in an Israeli airstrike in Syria along with six Hizbollah fighters in the
Golan Heights. Ahmed said that on that same day, the Syrian opposition shot
down a small plane that was filled with high ranking Iranian, Jordanian and
Hizbollah officials. He theorized that the media gave Israel credit for the
killing in order to downplay the powerful news of the Syrian resistance.
Regarding foreign funding, he mentioned a few weeks back there was a local
militia named Hazen that took money from America but then gave it to al-Nusra.