Syrian Rebel Infighting: Islamists Clash With Secularists

With Govt Mostly Out of Northeast, Rebels Fight Each Other

There have been long-standing concerns that the Syrian Civil War would, assuming the rebels win, simply lead to another war between secular and Islamist rebels. They don’t seem to be waiting for the first war to be over, however, as the Jabhat al-Nusra is in increasingly open warfare with the Farouq Battalions, a segment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), in the northeast.

The attempted assassination of a top commander in the Farouqs, Mohammad al-Daher, has sparked anger across the region, and with FSA factions holding the border crossings in the area, could set the stage for a battle across the Jazira region, which the Syrian government has mostly abandoned in favor of defensive positions around Damascus.

The rhetoric has been setting the stage for this for awhile, with Jabhat al-Nusra calling the Farouqs thieves and non-believers, while al-Daher, speaking from his hospital bed, said he believes he will be killed “either by the regime of by the Jabhat. There is no difference, they are both dirty.”

This divide is a long-standing problem for the rebels, though realistically as foreign jihadists flock to the nation the Jabhat al-Nusra seems to be getting stronger while more and more secularists, scared by the Islamist tone of the rebel movement, are backing out.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.