Direct Shipments to Fighters Undermining Secular Leaders

For a long time, Free Syrian Army (FSA) complaints about US aid were that they weren’t sending enough weapons. Now that the spigot is loose, the FSA’s leadership is being forced to rethink its old position.syria-lebanon-map1

FSA Brigadier General Abdelilah al-Bashir, one of the top leaders of the Supreme Military Council of the secular rebel faction, says the growing US arms shipments are undermining the FSA and creating myriad Somali-style warlords.

Brig. Gen. Bashir’s complaints seem to center around the US bypassing the ineffectual FSA council and are directly shipping arms to various fighters on the ground.

Those shipments aim at giving the US some more control over the rank-and-file rebel soldiers, but is also making them less dependent on the FSA leadership, and more inclined to operate independently.

US arms are chiefly going to “secular” rebels, who amount to a small minority of the rebellion. Israeli military intelligence has put the rebellion’s Islamist factions at about 80 percent of their overall fighting force. The US has offered almost no information on who it is sending the arms to, but some indications are that some of the weapons are winding up in the hands of Islamist factions.

by Jason Ditz

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