‘We’ll Weaken Russia by All Means Available’: American-backed ‘Moderate Rebels’ to Use Suicide Attacks on Russian Forces in Syria
After more than a week of Russian aerial attacks, Syrian rebels plan to hit back with double agents and suicide bombers.
“First, we will endure the violent aerial bombardment, then move to weaken Russia by all means available, such as recruiting agents in the ranks of the regime to provide us with the movements of the Russians and the regime,” said Rashid al-Hourani, from the American-backed Homs Liberation Movement.
The Homs Liberation Movement—a division of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army—seems ready to use tactics associated with ISIS. “We will conduct martyrdom operations carried out by dissident officers,” al-Hourani told The Daily Beast by telephone, using a euphemism for suicide attacks.
Though this may not be all that surprising. The Movement is a radical Islamist faction known to be a close military ally of the official al Qaeda franchise in Syria known as Jabhat al-Nusra. According to Genevieve Casagrande, an analyst at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War, “The relationship between Nusra and Tahrir Homs with regards to governance was thought of as ‘uneasy’ when Nusra first started to assert itself (and it’s strict version of sharia) in Homs, however, they have likely grown closer as time has gone on and probably are currently participating in joint rebel governance structures together.” Al-Nusra has already warned Russia that it will face another Afghanistan in Russia.
Also, the Movement is in a desperate situation. Its bases are in al-Rastan, Talbiseh, and other cities in the rebel enclave between Hama and Homs in western Syria, an area encircled by the Russian-backed Syrian army—and a main target of Russian bombing and cruise-missile attacks that kicked off in late September.
Russia has deployed at least 35 warplanes plus helicopters and hundreds of military advisers to Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the FSA should join the Russian and Syrian militaries in battling ISIS, but al-Hourani said that Russian airstrikes have only succeeded in unifying Syria’s squabbling rebel factions against Moscow and Damascus. In early October, 41 rebel units announced that they would begin targeting Russian forces. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi clerics have called for anti-Russian jihad.
American-trained “secular” rebels have fought alongside al Qaeda, refused to oppose it, surrendered to it and armed it with American-made weapons. But the Movement says it wants to be an American ally in Syria.
Al-Hourani said he hoped the
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