US-Backed Syrian Rebels Make Deal With al-Qaeda on Prisoner Release

Rebels Declare Themselves 'on the Same Page' with Jihadists

The much-vaunted US created Syrian rebel faction, Division 30, has recovered seven of its fighters from al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, a move that is being described as a “good will” gesture pending an agreement on cooperation between the two factions.

Division 30 issued a statement after the release of the fighters praising their “brothers” in al-Qaeda, and declaring that they are “on the same page with all holy warriors in Syria.” The group was meant to have been a secular, pro-US faction.

Division 30 only ever had 54 members, and 3 were killed in fighting with al-Qaeda. Another 13 were captured, though the group expressed hope that the remaining six will also be released. Al-Qaeda had initially condemned the group as serving US interests.

Al-Qaeda in Syria is seen extremely cozy with the Turkish government, and the talk of a joint US-Turkey “safe zone” in northern Syria may be playing a role in convincing al-Qaeda that being more cooperative with Division 30 will keep the safe zone covering less of their territory.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.