Militants mull joining Syria army to fight al-Qaeda

Militants mull joining Syria army to fight al-Qaeda
Thu Dec 5, 2013 09:27:14

Syrian ringleader of the anti-government militants General Salim Idris has declared that he is prepared to join government troops in the future to drive out al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

The commander of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) warned that in particular ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), with thousands of foreign terrorists in its ranks, was “very dangerous for the future of Syria” and needs to be confronted before it becomes even more powerful.

Speaking in Istanbul, General Idris, a former officer in Syria's army, said he and his associates were dropping the precondition that President Bashar al-Assad must leave power before the Geneva meeting takes place. Instead they would be satisfied if his departure were to take place “at the end of the negotiation process” when General Idris will join forces with the remainder of the government to mount an offensive against the terrorists.

Western security agencies now believe that Syria poses the most potent threat of terrorism in Europe and the US from where hundreds of extremists have gone to join the terrorism. Britain’s intelligence agency (MI5) and Scotland Yard’s anti-terrorist branch recently tackled the first case of men sent from there specifically to carry out attacks in London.

One senior Western intelligence official stressed that the Syrian government’s forces must be preserved for the battles ahead against the terrorists and the need to avoid the mistakes made in Iraq and Libya, where the army and police were disbanded with the fall of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, allowing terrorist groups to rise in a security vacuum.

The official held that talks between the Syrian government and militants set to take place in Geneva in January could be the beginning of the formation of an anti-al-Qaeda front in Syria, along with a negotiated settlement to end the conflict.

The opposition would like to see evidence of good faith from the government, which would include allowing supplies to get through to communities trapped by the fighting.

General Idris complained his men were having to fight a war on two fronts: they have, he claimed, fought al-Qaeda at 24 different locations in the last six months while at the same time facing poundings from government’s warplanes and artillery.


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