Jabhat Al-Nusra: ‘Why attack us? We didn’t do anything against the U.S. We just want to fight Assad’

Mike Giglio reports: At least eight U.S. airstrikes targeted the infamous Syrian rebel group called Jabhat al-Nusra in the last 24 hours. But a week ago, serving tea at his apartment in southern Turkey, an official with the extremist group complained that it gets a bad rap in the U.S. — and that the Obama administration should even see it as an ally.

Nusra is one of the most powerful insurgent forces in Syria’s civil war, with a long record of fighting the regime. It’s also a branch of al-Qaeda. This has seen it blacklisted as a terrorist group by the U.S. and U.N., something that has always angered some of its members, such as the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They say their lone goal is to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — a man whose ouster the Obama administration has called for too. “Why this treatment?” the official asked.

With global attention — and U.S. airstrikes — focused on another extremist group in the region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, some Nusra members were pushing to mark a clear distinction between the two organizations. Nusra even released a U.S. man it was holding captive — journalist Peter Theo Curtis — as well as 45 U.N. peacekeepers. “They’re just criminals,” the official said of ISIS, making a point of condemning the group for beheading U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. “They’re against the U.S. generally.”

He suggested that Nusra and the U.S., which backs moderate rebel groups inside Syria, were on the same side: “We are fighting with the rebels. We are fighting with their alliance against the other alliance. So why attack us?”

He added: “We didn’t do anything against the U.S. We just want to fight Assad.” [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “Jabhat Al-Nusra: ‘Why attack us? We didn’t do anything against the U.S. We just want to fight Assad’

  1. Robert

    There is little difference between any of the Sunni Jihadhi forces in the Levant created by Washington, The Gulf States and Turkey.

    There are only two forces that can defeat ISIS, one easily and that is Iran which compared to 30 thousand ISIS fighters and some stolen equipment, can field an army of 1 1/2 million with tank divisions, an air force and very high quality missiles with endless bombs.

    The other will take some time to develop and that is 30 million regional Kurds. But Washington will need Turkey’s cooperation to give them a physical space so they can be armed, equipped, trained, financed and given logistical support.

    And in both cases Washington would have to make compromises it doesn’t want to make. But choosing one group of Jihadhi butchers over another is a non starter.

  2. Paul Woodward

    On the contrary, for ordinary Syrians who are less fixated on the jihadist label than Westerners are, there’s much more pragmatism at play. They are less concerned about the markings on any group’s flag than how its members conduct themselves. Do they have a habit of chopping off people’s heads? Do they engage in looting and rape? Are they fighting for themselves or against Assad? Are they Syrian or foreign?

    The mobilization of the Kurds in the fight against ISIS, is a complicated issue. Turkey seems content to see Kurdistan develop in northern Iraq, but it doesn’t want it to extend any further. Syrian Sunnis see the Kurds being less interested in overthrowing Assad than in establishing their own state. Likewise the U.S. has made destroying ISIS a higher priority than ending the war in Syria.

    All of this must leave millions of Syrians with no other conclusion to draw than that their interests come lowest on everyone else’s agenda.

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