Reuters reports: Syria’s opposition says the United States must overcome its fear of Islamists among the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, and start arming the resistance movement to show it wants the entire ruling elite removed.
Islamists are among the most effective fighters against the Syrian leadership, some opposition figures said, and Washington needs to know that while these rebels are conservative Muslims they are a far cry from Afghan-style jihadi militants.
Frustration is growing that the United States will not supply weapons to the rebels, who have largely used small arms during the 16-month uprising against Assad and a state apparatus dominated by members of his Alawite minority.
“We have been kissing the hand of the United States and the rest of the world for the 16 months to intervene. Now, after Assad spared no one in Syria, the United States is surprised that al Qaeda may be operating in the country,” veteran opposition campaigner Fawaz al-Tello said from Istanbul.
Opposition campaigners and Free Syrian Army commanders said the rebels need weapons such as shoulder-fired missiles to destroy the tanks and bring down the helicopters that Assad is using against the uprising. Washington could anyway supply parts of the diverse rebel movement which are more to its liking.
“The U.S. has intelligence on the ground and by clever management it can channel weapons to the right people. First it has to give a clear signal that it really wants an end of the Alawite-dominated police state in Syria and not just the sidelining of Bashar,” said Tello, speaking from Istanbul.