The Free Syrian Army, which was regarded as a strong ally by the Obama administration, is in reality “the new ISIS” and is committing atrocities against civilians in Syria, the president of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) told a group of U.S. congressional representatives on Oct. 21.
Ilham Ahmed pleaded with Congress members and President Donald Trump to call on Turkey to stop its “massacre” and “ethnic cleansing” of Syrian Kurds. She also pointed to a new threat from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) which was supported by the Obama administration.
Ahmed said “a new ISIS is emerging” from among Turkey’s FSA allies and said the group is filled with “jihadists” and “former members of ISIS,” according to a Breitbart News report.
The SDC is the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The Kurdish-led SDF is a military alliance that was a key U.S. ally in the fight to destroy the Islamic State (ISIS) caliphate.
The SDF is also linked to the Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) – which Turkey regards as an arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist insurgency that is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and NATO.
“For Turkey, every Kurd is a target,” Ahmed said. “That’s why we see any threat or violation against the Kurds in the Kurdistan Region as a threat against Kurds everywhere.”
Writing for Breitbart News on Oct. 22, John Hayward noted:
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a loosely-defined network of Syrian rebel groups assembled by former Syrian military officers in 2011. The FSA was directly supported by the Obama administration through its Syrian Support Group (SSG). FSA supreme commander Gen. Salim Idris met with former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 and requested equipment and training from President Barack Obama, promoting his organization as Obama’s best hope for taking down Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
FSA supreme commander Gen. Salim Idris met with former Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013 and requested equipment and training from President Barack Obama, promoting his organization as Obama’s best hope for taking down Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
Obama initially signed a secret order authorizing covert support for the FSA through U.S. intelligence agencies. Congress approved the arming of Syrian rebels, including the FSA, in September 2014. U.S. support for the FSA reportedly included military training.
The Obama administration began cutting off cash support to FSA units in 2015 as criticism mounted that the program was not accomplishing much against either ISIS or the Assad regime and too many of the brigades supported by Obama’s program had not been vetted thoroughly enough. The FSA warned that losing U.S. support would mean Al Qaida’s Nusra Front would become the most powerful force in the rebellion.
Western media in the Obama era hailed the FSA as the only force standing between Syrian civilians and a massacre at the hands of Assad’s forces. Obama’s backing emboldened supporters to liken them to the citizen-soldiers of the American Revolution, prompting complaints from other FSA supporters that the U.S. president was underselling the professional military leadership of the organization’s best units, possibly because Obama’s realignment of U.S. foreign policy toward Iran motivated him to drop his tepid support for anti-Assad groups that weren’t getting the job done against Iran’s ally in Damascus anyway.
Now the Free Syrian Army is marching with Turkey against the Kurds, and Kurdish leaders like SDC President Ahmed are accusing them of atrocities and denouncing them as terrorists. Ahmed on Monday warned “a new ISIS is emerging” from among Turkey’s FSA allies and said the group is filled with “jihadists” and “former members of ISIS.”
The FSA has recently been accused of carrying out political executions and deliberately releasing ISIS prisoners as it pushes through areas held by Kurdish forces. FSA leaders deny these allegations.