Mariam Karouny and Oliver Holmes (Beirut), “New front opens in Syria as rebels say al Qaeda attack means war”,” Reuters, July 12, 2013.
Karouny and Holmes report:
(Reuters) – Syrian rebels said on Friday the assassination of one of their top commanders by al Qaeda-linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters struggling against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
“We will not let them get away with it because they want to target us,” a senior FSA commander said on condition of anonymity after members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant killed Kamal Hamami on Thursday.
“We are going to wipe the floor with them,” he said.
Hamami, also known by his nom de guerre, Abu Bassir al-Ladkani, is one of the top 30 figures on the FSA’s Supreme Military Command.
His killing highlights how the West’s vision of a future, democratic Syria is unraveling.
Louay Mekdad, FSA Supreme Command Political Coordinator, said Abu Ayman al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s Emir of the coastal region, personally shot dead Hamami and his brother at the roadblock.
The FSA has been trying to build a logistics network and reinforce its presence across Syria as the U.S. administration considers sending weapons, in part to present a bulwark against units it considers “terrorist organizations.”
But with funding from Gulf-based individuals, Islamist brigades have taken a leading role in rebel-held regions of Syria, filling the vacuum of power by setting up religious courts and governance bodies.
U.S. congressional committees are holding up plans to arm the rebels because of fears that such deliveries will not be decisive and the arms might end up in the hands of Islamist militants.
This is what the consequences of incompetent U.S. foreign policy look like in Syria, on the ground.
The Trenchant Observer