Syrian Rebel Leader: Absent Outside Support, ‘We Will All Turn into Terrorists’

FSA leader pledges commitment to human rights, while warning of commitment to terrorism

by John Glaser, November 09, 2012

Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh, the leader of the Free Syrian Army, warned that if outside powers don’t quickly back the rebel fighters trying to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the rebels might all turn into terrorists instead.

“If there’s no quick decision to support us, we will all turn into terrorists,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. “If you apply the pressure that’s been applied to Syria, it will explode in all directions. Terrorism will grow quickly.”

The US has been facilitating the delivery of weapons to the rebels from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, but has been reluctant to directly give the rebels any lethal aid. Part of the reason is that the so-called leadership of the FSA is hardly recognized by most of the fighters on the ground.

Notably, al-Sheikh’s warning is not very far from reality. US intelligence has recognized for some time now that the great bulk of the rebel fighters are jihadists, many having come from foreign countries, and some even fighting under the banner of al-Qaeda.

While issuing this warning, al-Sheikh is also trying to convince the West to more enthusiastically back the rebels. He claims he has established a command structure and published a manifesto giving lip-service for human rights.

But those efforts to appeal to the US for greater, and more lethal, arms support is ridiculous. Writing a manifesto about the FSA’s supposed commitment to human rights, while at the same time warning that they may just “turn into terrorists” doesn’t exactly fit.

Beyond this, the rebels are known to have committed war crimes, including executing captured Assad-supporters.

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