US and UK Suspend Aid to Rebels in Northern Syria


Credit: Cheotic/wikimedia

The U.K. and the U.S. have suspended non-lethal assistance to Assad's opposition in northern Syria in the wake of fighters from the Islamist Front seizing bases from the Free Syrian Army. As the BBC's James Reynolds explains, some of the supplies sent by the U.S. and the U.K. could now be in the hands of Islamists:

This year, the US promised to send $250m of non-lethal supplies to the moderates represented by the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army. The aid is reported to include vehicles, communications equipment and night-vision goggles. This year, the UK has provided more than £20m of non-lethal aid—including communications and search and rescue equipment.

Crucially, some of these supplies may now be with the Islamists. Rebels from the newly formed Islamist Front have taken over warehouses in northern Syria belonging to the FSA. This takeover reflects the growing power of Islamist factions within the Syrian opposition movement.

For this reason, the US and the UK have suspended their delivery of aid. For the White House and for Downing Street, the idea of supporting the Syrian opposition is getting increasingly complicated.

As the BBC's reporting explains, the Islamist Front does not include Al Qaeda-linked groups, but it does welcome "brothers who supported us in jihad."

Last week, it was reported that the Free Syrian Army's General Salim Idris said that he was willing to join forces with Assad in the future in order to fight Al Qaeda-linked groups, who have been enjoying an increase in European recruits. 

That Islamists are among the rebels in Syria has been one of the most convincing arguments against intervention there. The recent news is only the latest sign that lethal military aid should not be sent to Assad's opposition.

More from on Syria here.

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  1. Poor McCain. It’s just not his year.

    1. Pretty sure McCain will make the argument that this only proves that we should have supported the Free Syrian Army earlier, preventing the Islamist groups from taking over the rebellion.

  2. What’s “lethal assisstance”?

    1. Should be “lethal assistance”

  3. Why not suspend all aid?

    Everytime we try to be slayers of oppression we end up propping up factions that were worst than the previous dictator.

    I hate to say it, but event though some of these people were assholes(Assad, Saddam, etc) they kept the region stabilized.

    1. even though*

    2. No they did not that is just a disgusting fiction.

  4. Huh. Who could have seen this coming?

    1. Pretty amazing how a bunch of guys wearing tin-foil hats and hanging out in Mom’s basement are consistently more accurate in predicting policy implications than so called experts on either TEAM.

  5. Hold on, I read on the internets a different account of what happened on the ground. I read that inititally ISUS took these weapons warehouses away from the FSA and then the Islamic Front intervented to fight off ISUS. Not saying this justifies aid but I like to know the what what.

    1. The only difference between ISIS, the al-Nusra Front, and the FSA is how far gone the Islamist cancer is in their brains.

      1. Your ignorance is showing. FSA doesn’t impose Sharia on the places its taken over.

        1. I never said they did. Just as someone who doesn’t feel the lump in their testicles yet doesn’t go out and get chemo.

          But you’re fooling yourself if you think the FSA is interested in establishing a government based on liberal economics and civil rights. The best the FSA would be is a slightly more belligerent to Israel version of modern-day Turkey.

          1. It seems to me like a lot of the FSA really does just want elections. Their behavior seems to speak for itself. Unlike the jihadists or the regime they don’t massacre anyone. They try to protect all the civilians.

            In one of the links in the article it mentions 1 FSA dude who died trying to stop islamists from killing allawites.

            They really might be not so bad. The problem with arming them is there are not that many of them, and they aren’t that great at fighting. I imagine that if not for Assad, the jihadists would slaughter them all and if not for the jihadists, Assad would.

            But ‘slightly more belligerent to Israel than Turkey’ would still be leaps and bounds better than the ISIS Mediterranean taliban. Assad is probably better for the Syrian’s than them.

  6. In the event that Syria becomes a battle between AQ and not so bad guys, America should absolutely intervene in favor the not so bad guys.

    1. Why? You think we can spare the men from protecting not-so-bad Hamid Karzai’s narco-fortune?

      1. We can spare weapons.

    2. It already is. Assad is the not as bad as AQ guy. But we’re against him.

    3. What if those not so bad guys who aren’t AQ are Assad and Hezbollah?

      In a way it would make sense. And yet it is insane. Either way.

      In this war, we are actually aligned with Al Qaeda. We are alternately at war or allied with these nutters at numerous times throughout the last century. All those AQ jihadists are being sent into syria by our ally Saudi Arabia, to fight our nominal enemy.

  7. The U.K. and the U.S. have suspended non-lethal assistance to Assad’s opposition

    Does that include stopping the destruction of Assad’s remaining CW arsenal?

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