US Officials Say Syrian al-Qaeda Poses a Growing Threat to the West

Accuse Russia of protecting al-Qaeda from airstrikes

With Syrian-based ISIS virtually non-existent, US officials are looking for a new enemy to justify the continued military presence there. The focus seems to be falling on al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, which officials are claiming poses a threat of launching attacks in the West.

The US policy on Syrian al-Qaeda has been very complicated over the years, with US support for rebels often boiling down to US arming of al-Qaeda forces. The US has also tended to be deeply critical of Russian and Syrian government attacks on al-Qaeda in northern Syria, even as they now argue the group poses a threat.

And while US criticism of Russian and Syrian offensives in Idlib has been as recent as the past couple of weeks, those same US officials are also accusing Russia of “inadvertently” protecting al-Qaeda from US airstrikes simply by being present in northern Syria.

This is a dishonest claim, as in practice, the US has launched airstrikes in this part of Syria without facing Russian resistance, and Russia and Syria have also launched airstrikes of their own against this same al-Qaeda faction. There is no sign any of them is having problems attacking al-Qaeda, nor that al-Qaeda is in any way benefiting from this split.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of