Asaad Hanna writes: Last October the UN special envoy for Syria, Steffan de Mistura, invited Syrian military factions to engage in dialogue with the regime through the so-called Four Committees Initiative. The initiative was rejected by the factions out of mistrust, but it did reveal the elevated number of opposition fighters that were active in Syria: 74 military factions signed the rejection statement, the smallest of which numbered 1,000, while others totalled more than 10,000.
Crucially, none of these 74 are internationally classified as extremists. The moderate opposition is not a myth. Syrians do not need foreign fighters to help them fight Isis; they have indigenous fighters, better acquainted with the land and able to confront any aggressor, particularly where there is firm international will to support them to do so.
The Syrian armed opposition is fighting a war on two fronts: against Assad and against Daesh. Assad’s barbarity has driven Syrians from their homes and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians over the past five years.
On the other side, we are facing Daesh, a terrorist group whose creation Assad must take some of the responsibility for. Daesh is helping the Assad regime by fighting us, the armed moderate opposition. The relationship between the two should not be in doubt.
Whenever we have made advances and secured victories, Daesh has defended the Assad regime. For example, we have seen Daesh launch offensives in order to draw Free Syrian Army forces away from battle, to ease pressure on the regime. During a battle near Qardaha – the birthplace of Bashar al-Assad – the armed opposition was achieving great victories until Daesh suddenly launched an attack on a key military position in the nearby city of Aleppo, killing a number of Free Syrian Army commanders. Just three days later they withdrew, at which point they handed the area over to regime forces. [Continue reading…]