Syria

Rebels in Syria Execute Pro-Assad Fighters in Latest Offensives

|

Credit: Voice of America News/wikimedia

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights dozens of soldiers and pro-Assad militia fighters were killed earlier this week as rebels made advances in the north and south of Syria.

From Reuters:

Insurgents have focused on taking isolated army outposts, mostly in rural areas while forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have made gains in recent months around the capital Damascus and the central city of Homs.

One video, posted on YouTube on Wednesday by a rebel group calling itself the Supporters of the Islamic Caliphate, shows around 30 bodies of young men piled up against a wall. Blood is splattered on the wall and one corpse is smoldering.

"Tens of Assad's (militia) killed," says a man off camera. He said the footage was filmed in the area of the northern town of Khan al-Assal which was taken by rebels last week.

The Obama administration is moving forward with plans to arm rebels in Syria. However, exactly how these weapons will be delivered remains to be decided. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) that, "We must anticipate and be prepared for the unintended consequences of our action." One such unintended consequence could be American weapons being used by groups like Supporters of the Islamic Caliphate. How the Obama administration plans to prepare for the more unpleasant elements of Assad's opposition getting their hands on American weapons remains to be seen. Given the chaotic situation in Syria it's hard to see how any plans could ensure extremist rebels in Syria don't receive American weapons. 

NEXT: Rand Paul to Chris Christie: Talk to More Americans

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Arm which rebels?

    What if this leads to a breakaway Kurdish area? Will the Turks like that? What might the Turks do then?

    How about the Russian interests? Will they stand by and let their asset be thrown out?

    What if whoever wins ends up being even more of a threat to Israel?

  2. Supporters of the Islamic Caliphate

    Definitely the dudes you want running your new government.

    1. Yeah, and these are the guys we’re gonna send arms to. I never really bought the whole “OBAMA IZ A SIKRIT MOOSLUM!11!1!!!!!” thing, but when you look at the groups he’s arming, you do kinda have to wonder.

      Then again, so is John McCain I guess.

  3. Needs more murder!

    1. MOAR MURDER

      MOARDER

      MOARDOR

      MOARDUHR

      MORDERP

      or something like that. Strangely feel the need to add MOHR but will resist for now.

  4. I guess it’s hard for some people to believe that rebels would react to being violently suppressed with violence, but it shouldn’t be.

    If there are some implications about these atrocities that affect the debate over whether we should support the rebels in Syria, um…maybe there shouldn’t be.

    Is it possible for it to be in our best interests to support people who have committed atrocities? I think so. And if it’s in our best interests to support Syria’s rebels–because of what Assad’s fall would mean for Iran–then it very well may be in our best interests to continue to support the rebels in Syria regardless of whether they have committed atrocities.

    There may be numerous options in dealing with Iran and their nuclear and long range missile programs, but they mostly seem to boil down to just a few:

    1) We invade Iran.
    2) We pretend Iran isn’t a threat and/or do nothing and hope the threat goes away.
    3) We fight a proxy war.

    Guess which option makes the most sense to me?

    1. Kendall Shultz: the proverb “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me” made manifest in flesh.

    2. Are you hoping that fighting a proxy war would divert enough resources from Iran’s coffers that they would be too cash-strapped to continue their nuclear program? That victory for the Sunni rebels in Syria would mean Shi’ite Iran would just give up its uranium-enrichment capabilities instead of doubling down on them?

      I fail to follow.

      1. No, actually, there are a few concurrent strategies we can follow without taking military action into account at all.

        For instance, we can pursue sanctions in all three cases I outlined above–or not. And that’s essentially what we’re doing. The idea is to make Iran burn through all its foreign reserves before it can develop and test a nuclear weapon. If we succeed in doing that, then Iran will be driven back to the negotiating table before they test a weapon.

        Personally, I’d rather we also offered Iran a huge free trade deal…if only our relationship with Iran were more like our relationship with China! Nothing aligns people’s interests like free trade.

        Regardless, in addition to whatever we do with sanctions and trade policy, there’s the military question of what to do once Iran does develop nuclear weapons and long range missiles. The strategy where we bury our heads in the sand and pretend Iran isn’t really a threat is…um…pathetic in my opinion. And I’m not interested in invading Iran.

        Meanwhile, we’ve got allies and potential allies who are willing to fight Assad–Iran’s primary ally in the region. Iran appears to be deathly afraid of losing Syria as an ally, not to mention their fear of a Persian Spring, which is why Iran is all-in on fighting against the Syrian rebels…

        If Iran thinks Syria is vital to Iranian security interests, who am I to argue with them? And if it’s in our best interests to help Iran’s enemies, then I just think we should do so.

  5. Sounds like this is settling into the classic posture of the stalemated insurgency/civil war: the regime holds the cities, the upstarts hold the countryside.

  6. “around 30 bodies of young men piled up against a wall. Blood is splattered on the wall and one corpse is smoldering.”

    Wow, 30 acts of defensive warfare!

  7. Che would be proud.

  8. Is there any reason to believe that, if the rebels win, they may spread instability to neighboring countries? Maybe groups like the one above are just on the fringe of the overall secular, humanistic opposition force, but I wouldn’t take any chances.

    What is so hard about staying out, Obama? Are we to forever be the world police?

    1. America…f___ yeah!!!

    2. “Is there any reason to believe that, if the rebels win, they may spread instability to neighboring countries?”

      I think Iran being deathly afraid of that possibility may be a pretty good reason to believe that. Certainly, the things the protestors of the Arab Spring have been protesting against (from Tunisia to Egypt to Syria) are the same things that the Iranian government does habitually. Again, if the Iranians think the Arab Spring is a threat to overflow Syria’s borders and create a Persian Spring, then who am I to argue with the Iranians about what their security interests are?

      “Maybe groups like the one above are just on the fringe of the overall secular, humanistic opposition force, but I wouldn’t take any chances.”

      Again, I don’t find the virtuous character of the rebels to be especially relevant–I think American interests should be the primary consideration.

      It’s possible that it’s always only in American interests to help allies who respect the Geneva Conventions and who won’t take revenge on their oppressors, but…um…that seems kinda Pollyanna to me. Certainly, if it’s in our best interests to help people who don’t respect the Geneva Conventions and who do sometimes take revenge on the people who’ve oppressed them, then I think we should do what’s in America’s best interests, anyway.

  9. Won’t the anti-Assad rebels just hate us for waiting so long to help them?

  10. It makes sense to cultivate some kind of relationship with the rebels in Syria. Even if it backfires the new regime would remain hostile to the US regardless.

    We can’t forget many of the Islamists fighting were released from prison by Assad. He knew they would migrate to the rebel camp so he can say oh look, we are resisting Islamist extremists11!!!

    Ignoring the fact that Syria exported fundamentalist Islam all over the Middle East including Hezbollah which is now fighting FOR Syria. I think it is great. Islamic terrorists killing Islamic terrorists?

    A second reason to support the rebels is merely an act of proxy war against Iran. Iran continues to engage in the US and Israel through proxies yet remains largely immune from attack. US can’t allow these policies to go unanswered. The US has invested several trillion dollars in the Middle East and has succeeded in creating one of the most stable defense umbrellas in the region in recent history. But Syria could change all of that.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.