'Syria Islamic Front dismisses US ambassador invitation'

'Syria Islamic Front dismisses US ambassador invitation'
Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:55:18

Syrian militant sources have denied that talks have taken place between the US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and ringleaders of the so-called Islamic Front, one of the largest extremist factions in Syria.

A source within the Syrian militant ranks, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on condition of anonymity, said on Tuesday: “The Islamic Front received an invitation from the US administration through mediators to discuss the possibility of returning to work under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but it has not responded yet.”

A spokesman for the Ahrar Al-Sham group within the Islamic Front, Abu Majd Al-Shami, told the daily that no meeting had taken place with Ford and dismissed the possibility of a meeting taking place soon.

He said: “Everything depends on the interests of our people in the future, and decisions would be made according to developments.”

Meanwhile, an official of the Islamic Front’s political bureau, Abdallah Al-Hamawi, denied the reports and said they were “lies, and their objectives were clear, and we will not allow them to cause sedition”.

He added on his Twitter account that the Islamic Front “will not fight the al-Qaeda organization because it [Islamic Front] was founded to form a link for jihadists”, and that it would not fight a proxy war or cause division between the extremists.

Opposition sources said the Islamic Front was faced with two difficult options—if it accepted dialogue with the Americans it would put itself in confrontation with the extremist forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front, which would accuse it of being an agent of the West, while if it rejected dialogue, it would become distant from the international community.

The sources suggested “the timing of the US invitation extended to the Islamic Front after it took control of FSA positions aims at pressuring the Islamic Front to return to work with the FSA.” The US had expressed concerns about the control by the Islamic Front of former FSA positions at the Bab Al-Hawa border point with Turkey, and had suspended its aid to the FSA as a consequence.


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