Says Weakening ISIS Could Strengthen Other Islamist Groups
Speaking at the NATO summit in Warsaw, French President Francois Hollande urged the expansion of the US-led coalition war against ISIS to include al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, the Nusra Front, saying that losses inflicted on ISIS might embolden other Islamist factions to take their place.
Hollande cautioned that while it was “beyond dispute” that ISIS is in retreat, other groups, particularly Nusra, stand to benefit from the war’s exclusive focus of ISIS, and that it was vital to avoid a situation where ISIS is simply replaced with another group.
Targeting Nusra has been extremely controversial during the Syrian Civil War, as the al-Qaeda affiliate is closely aligned with several US-backed rebel factions, and these nominally “moderate” rebels have repeatedly issued angry condemnations whenever Nusra is targeted.
Indeed, the US has recently been pressuring Russia to halt all airstrikes against Nusra themselves, citing the large number of ceasefire participating factions which are overtly aligned with Nusra, and embedded in their territory.
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