UN: Syria’s Rebels Come From 29 Countries

Influx of Sunni Fighters Adds to Sectarian Tone of Civil War

Despite a narrative of Syria’s rebellion being an extension of pro-democracy protests in 2011, UN human rights investigators say that the rebel forces are increasingly made up of foreign fighters with a sectarian agenda.

A report by the UN says that rebel fighters have come from 29 countries, and are overwhelmingly Sunnis flocking to the nation to fight against the Alawite President Bashar Assad.

As the fighting gets more sectarian in nature, it has encouraged more religious fighters from abroad, and as those fighters arrive, they fuel the sectarian tensions all the more, a dangerous cycle that seems likely to just keep getting worse.

The shift has been readily apparent to those watching, as the rebel leadership has gone from overwhelmingly military defectors to a collection of Islamist clerics and Muslim Brotherhood activists calling the shots in a matter of months, and groups with open endorsements from al-Qaeda like the al-Nusra Front taking center stage in major offensives.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.