In an interview with the Associated Press, Col. Abdel-Jabbar Aqidi, the commander for the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Aleppo, sought to downplay the number of foreign jihadists inside the rebel movement, saying at most 500 jihadists are in Aleppo.
The estimate is far lower than what other reports would indicate, as while no numbers have been given they have repeatedly suggested a growing number of Islamist factions in Aleppo setting themselves up against not only the regime, but against secular rebels and promising to install a theocracy nationwide.
The comments appear designed to placate Western concerns that the funding they are providing to the rebels is ending up backing al-Qaeda linked factions, with Syria complaining to the UN that “thousands” of terrorists have entered through Turkey.
Turkey has openly backed the FSA, but have also seemingly turned a blind eye to the number of fighters flocking from Northern Africa, Libya in particular, with an interest in joining the rebel movement. Though it is impossible to get accurate figures from inside Libya, the “500 jihadists in Aleppo” claim seems an underestimation.
Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz
- White House Corrects Tillerson, Rejects North Korea Talks - December 13th, 2017
- White House Accuses Abbas of 'Preventing Peace' With Criticism - December 13th, 2017
- US Expected to Sanction Iran Because of Worsening Conditions in Yemen - December 13th, 2017
- Saudi Airstrikes Against Yemen Capital Kill 39 - December 13th, 2017
- Yemen's Pro-Saleh Faction, Houthis Make a Deal to End Dispute - December 13th, 2017