AQ seizes town on Syria-Turkey border … from other rebels

posted at 8:41 am on September 19, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

A strategic crossing into Turkey from Syria may soon be in the hands of al-Qaeda after infighting among Syrian rebels broke out into open warfare. The assault on Azaz did not come from rebels against the Bashar al-Assad regime, but from al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Nusra Front against the Free Syrian Army, which had previously held Azaz:

Al-Qaeda-linked militants seized a key northern Syrian town from rebels on Wednesday, as mounting friction between anti-­government extremists and more moderate, Western-backed opposition factions erupted into all-out conflict.

The town of Azaz, two miles from the Turkish border, was overrun by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant after clashes broke out at the main hospital there. The fighting began when the al-Qaeda-linked group attempted to detain a German doctor, according to medics and activists.

The fall of the town, which lies on the road between the border crossing of Bab Salameh and the northern city of Aleppo, has the potential to disrupt rebel supply lines. The crossing itself, one of the few between Syria and Turkey that are still functional, remained in the hands of the more moderate Free Syrian Army on Wednesday night, despite reports that Islamic State was mounting an offensive to take it.

Although both mainstream opposition forces and al-Qaeda-linked fighters are battling the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the extremists have focused their energies lately on attacking their fellow rebels. Tensions between Islamic State and other rebel factions have been building since the group emerged on the ground earlier this year. It declared war on two mainstream rebel groups last week in what it labeled operation “cleansing evil.”

That complicates matters for the West, which used Azaz as both a conduit for aid and as an example of the effectiveness and moderation of the FSA. CNN reminds readers that John McCain used the Bab el Salama gate for his visit to Syria in his attempt to raise support for American intervention on FSA’s behalf.

The FSA expressed indignation over the lack of Western assistance against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, which they now call “infidels.” However, the FSA itself admits that they let the radical Islamists into the fight themselves, as one FSA leader called for vengeance on CNN:

“[ISIS] are not rebels anymore; from this point, they are terrorists now,” said Louay Almokdad, the political and media coordinator for the FSA, said in an interview broadcast live on CNN.

“We are fighting two terrorist teams on two fronts; one al-Assad regime and Hezbollah militia and the Iranian revolutionary guards and the other the extremists al Qaeda, ISIS,” Almokdad added.

Until recently, there had been cooperation between the two groups. …

“These guys (ISIS) are infidels. They killed my brother and wounded my other brother,” said Hajouleh’s older brother, Khaled, who wept as he spoke to CNN.

The elder Hajouleh said he had previously helped facilitate the arrival of foreign jihadist fighters from Turkey, some of whom volunteered to fight with the hardline ISIS militia in Syria.

“I let these guys in, and I totally regret it,” said Khaled Hajouleh. “I thought these guys were coming to help us and protect us.”

Hajouleh’s brother coordinated media visits to Syria on behalf of the FSA, again to bolster global support for arming the rebels in Syria.  It seems very difficult to believe that they could have been that naive about the intentions of ISIS and the Nusra Front, given those groups’ publicly-stated goals of establishing a pan-Muslim caliphate based on shari’a law rather than the democracy promised by FSA leader Louay Almokdad in the video above.  They probably calculated that they could use the extremists as cannon fodder while retaining control of the rebellion, which turned out to be a massive miscalculation — and a good argument for refraining from sending the FSA anything that later can shoot back at us.


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Ed, stop with the automatic starting video commercials on the site!!!

HDFOB on September 19, 2013 at 8:49 AM

Maybe McInsane can meet with these guys and congratulate them on their most recent victory.

NotCoach on September 19, 2013 at 8:51 AM

Ed, stop with the automatic starting video commercials on the site!!!

HDFOB on September 19, 2013 at 8:49 AM

That’s been a never-ending battle between Ed/AP and the advertisers signed up by Salem.

Steve Eggleston on September 19, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Obama thinks he is like a Castro figure to these “rebels”.

redguy on September 19, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Thank Gawd Barry’s on the case.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on September 19, 2013 at 8:53 AM

So, the Congress will probably hear about this in 2014.
Do they still use Pony Express?

redguy on September 19, 2013 at 8:55 AM

The assault on Azaz did not come from rebels against the Bashar al-Assad regime, but from al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Nusra Front

Great! The more “oppositionists” in the mix the better! I’m sure this too was part of Obama’s super-smart plan.

Happy Nomad on September 19, 2013 at 8:58 AM

Obama thinks he is like a Castro figure to these “rebels”.

redguy on September 19, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Obama as a father figure to the guys who have been out there killing American soldiers for over a decade? Probably true given that they probably are cousins a couple of times removed.

Happy Nomad on September 19, 2013 at 8:59 AM

This just proves why we need to send over our military. Without us, Syrians will never know peace, love, and democracy! /John McCain

aryeung on September 19, 2013 at 9:04 AM

Impeach Obama, save America the world.

of course then we’d have Biden.

PappyD61 on September 19, 2013 at 9:05 AM

Lies! All lies!
There are no al-Qaeda in the rebel ranks or even in Syria. If there were I just know that BO, peace be upon him, would never want to aid them.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 19, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Wonder if they used them some fine weapons shipped to that area by the US.

watertown on September 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Obama thinks he is like a Castro figure to these “rebels”.
redguy on September 19, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Wow. I didn’t even know Ariel Castro had a following or was looked up to by rebels. Now I find that BO thinks he is Ariel Castro. I guess it’s true that we learn something new every day.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 19, 2013 at 9:11 AM

So were these those moderate rebels McCain wants to arm or those less moderate but still moderate rebels McCain want to arm?

Gatsu on September 19, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Wonder if they used them some fine weapons shipped to that area by the US.

watertown on September 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM

So, we’re sending weapons to the same people that want to kill us. Giving aid to our enemies sounds like an impeachable offense to me.

chewmeister on September 19, 2013 at 9:16 AM

O’s doing the keep your enemies closer thingy.

docflash on September 19, 2013 at 9:16 AM

I wonder how long ISIS had been waiting to take Azaz. Islamists usually wait until the local rebels have been supplied with weaponry before taking over a town. They must have lost their faith in John McCain’s ability to deliver and just pushed ahead.

ROCnPhilly on September 19, 2013 at 9:19 AM

“Hey! I’ve got a great idea! Let’s send advanced weaponry to Muslim Terrorists who want to kill us! Who’s with me?” – BHO

kingsjester on September 19, 2013 at 9:21 AM

That complicates matters for the West

Now the discussion begins… do we blame Republican Obstructionism, the sequester, the NRA or low taxes?

mankai on September 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM

docflash on September 19, 2013 at 9:16 AM

Nah, if that was the case, Tea Party Express would be having a sleepover at the white house.

HomeoftheBrave on September 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Yeah but are these guys Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda or just Al Qaeda. There is always nuance with sooper jeanuses like Obama and Kerry.

jukin3 on September 19, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Now the discussion begins… do we blame Republican Obstructionism, the sequester, the NRA or low taxes?

mankai on September 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM

If this were AoSHQ, I’d sock a Presstitute Organs “Yes” answer.

Steve Eggleston on September 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM

as one FSA leader called for vengeance on CNN

I’d say CNN deserves it after all they’ve done.

Bishop on September 19, 2013 at 9:32 AM

For a group on the verge of being wiped out, AQ seems to be pretty capable.

Unless…unleeeeess…Bark was full of popo when he made that claim.

Bishop on September 19, 2013 at 9:34 AM

chewmeister on September 19, 2013 at 9:16 AM

As much as I hate his policies and I agree hes on ground for impeachment, this country would split in half. The one thing that would do it would be…. drum roll….

Race.

There would be Rodney(sp?) type rioting going on in the whole country. The Left has fanned the flames so much in the last 5 years its not funny and in fact I think we have taking about 10 steps back. They use it for anything simple that anyone disagrees on with Obama… imagine if there was impeachment brought onto him.

watertown on September 19, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Which one is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood?
That is the one Obama is backing.

albill on September 19, 2013 at 9:36 AM

And not to worry, Obama signed executive order allowing the arming of terrorists in Syria.

albill on September 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Please revise your campaign bumber stickers:

Detroit dead.
AQ still alive.
Obama 2012!

mankai on September 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Please revise your campaign bumber stickers:

Detroit dead.
AQ still alive.
Obama 2012!

mankai on September 19, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Bumber sticker? -_-

Detroit Dead.
AQ Alive.
With this crew in charge we’ll be lucky to survive.
Killary 2016

Bishop on September 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

This is what we get for electing an amateur in chief. He brought along the Can’t We All Just Get Along crowd and voila, peace in the ME. According to Assad in that interview on Fox, if the FSA wants peace, they can lay their arms down and become good little Syrian citizens again. Maybe he can concentrate on AQ and Alnusra and push them into the sea. Watch out, Turkey may be the next country pulled into this morass and they are our NATO ally. More arms, please.

Kissmygrits on September 19, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Wow! I never saw that coming!

Send more weapons! Send more advisers! Send in the CIA!

– John McCain

Hill60 on September 19, 2013 at 10:20 AM

AND THIS IS WHY OUT ONLY CONCERN SHOULD BE THE CHRISTIANS AND MINORITY SECTS OF THE REGION. LET THE OTHER THREE FIGHT IT OUT.

WOULD IT REALY SUCK IF FSA WERE ROUTED TO UAE OR TURKEY, LEAVING ASSAD VS ISIS?

DOESN’T THAT FORCE IRAN AND RUSSIA TO FIGHT AQ?

budfox on September 19, 2013 at 10:23 AM

if you like your syrians rebels; you can keep your syrian rebels.

t8stlikchkn on September 19, 2013 at 10:25 AM

I wonder what Turkey does about this – it undermines their regional strategies, right in their own backyard.

besser tot als rot on September 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Too bad there isn’t a secure area with democratic leaning people that will fight against Assad and the Islamist. Oh wait, there is, Kurdistan.

Rancher on September 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Why aren’t we droning al Qaeda bases in Syria? Nearly every day we drone al Qaeda in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, maybe some other countries we haven’t been told about.

Why have we created a safe haven for al Qaeda in Syria? Isn’t that what the Taliban did in Afghanistan, and for that we declared war on them?

slickwillie2001 on September 19, 2013 at 11:04 AM

Too bad there isn’t a secure area with democratic leaning people that will fight against Assad and the Islamist. Oh wait, there is, Kurdistan.

Rancher on September 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM

I support a free Kurdistan. Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran all fear that because they would all have to give up territory and control over the Kurdish people.

MichaelGabriel on September 19, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Too bad there isn’t a secure area with democratic leaning people that will fight against Assad and the Islamist. Oh wait, there is, Kurdistan.

Rancher on September 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM

….. and Turkey has been at war with the Kurds since the days of Kemal Ataturk. So much for democratic leaning Muslims.

simkeith on September 19, 2013 at 1:09 PM

If I recall correctly, Turkey’s got a mechanized infantry base in Gazientep (sp) noted in the map on the HA front page splash that’s near this area of concern.

Turkey’s also got an armored infantry base not too far from there on the coast in Iskenderun and not too far to the NE in Adana is the NATO airbase Incirlik. Not to mention all the SAM’s NATO has given/placed along Turkey’s border with Syria this past spring.

Turkey’s going to be keeping their eye on this to be sure.

My money’s on Turkey looking for a power vacuum after the dust settles so they can walk in and pick up the pieces.

Hegemony in the name of long-term, forward thinking… AKP.

Logus on September 19, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Put a quarantine around the entire region and let them kill each other off. Once the ban is in place, no one goes in and no one comes out.

Ace ODale on September 19, 2013 at 2:29 PM

I wonder what Turkey does about this – it undermines their regional strategies, right in their own backyard.

besser tot als rot on September 19, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Actually I don’t think it undermines their strategy. The AKP is looking for a resurgence of the old Turkish hegemony.

One way they can do this is by playing the role of peace keeper and of clean-up crew.

Power Vacuums.

I foresee Turkey trying to cause both sides in this war to knock themselves out and then they can step in and “save the day”, offering economic assistance, military peace and protection, etc.

… along with a good puppet leader.

Removes Syria as a concern and cuts Iran’s nose off.

Logus on September 19, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Syria Rebel order of battle

0800 Shoot at Assad Government troops.
0900 Fire at Muslim Brotherhood rebels.
1000 Lob grenades at Al Qaeda rebel positions.
1100 Blast Hezbollah guerrillas
1200 Lunch break
1300 Nerve gas local school and blame everybody except yourself for the “outrage”.
1400 Receive AR-15s personally delivered by John McCain.

MaiDee on September 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Continued itinery

1500 Pitch a few missiles into Turkey hoping a retaliatory strike will weaken Assad.
1600 Pitch a few more missiles into Israel hoping a retaliatory strike will further weaken Assad.
1700 Child molesting break to be followed by evening prayers.
1800 Dinner.

MaiDee on September 19, 2013 at 3:35 PM

I’d say CNN deserves it after all they’ve done.

Bishop on September 19, 2013 at 9:32 AM

That’s how I read it.

AesopFan on September 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM

if you like your syrians rebels; you can keep your syrian rebels.

t8stlikchkn on September 19, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Bumper Sticker of the day.

AesopFan on September 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM