US Colonel Chris Garver at a DoD press briefing today the 17 August 2016:
- Transcript of the DoD Press briefing (17 Aug 2016) – Department of Defense Press Briefing by Colonel Garver via Teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq:
Despite Jabhat al Nusrah (al Qaeda in Syria), now known as Jabhat Fateh al Sham having firm ties with al Qaeda, US military operations in Syria are not targeting the fundamentalist Islamic group as confirmed by Colonel Chris Garver today at a DoD (Department of Defence) Press briefing via Teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq.
‘What I did specifically say was we’re not fighting al Nusrah (now Jabhat Fateh al Sham), we are fighting Daesh (IS).’
‘We’re not focused on the former al Nusrah Front, we’re focused on Daesh and that’s where we’re fighting and that’s where therefore we look and where we target. Are we aware of their (Jabhat Fateh al Sham) locations on the battlefield, yeah they’re out there on the battlefield, we know that, but we’re not focused on them, we’re focused on Daesh.’
Colonel Chris Garver goes on to say that the US has seen Russia strike targets that were not Daesh. He states that he specifically said the three targets they (Russia) went to hit in Idlib, Aleppo and Deir Ezzor, only Deir Ezzor is where they (US) see Daesh. In other words, the US do not see them (Daesh) in Idlib or Aleppo where Russia also struck and thus implying that Russia is attacking Western deemed moderate forces also.
Conveniently the US are not focused on Jabhat Fateh al Sham who are very much present in Idlib and Aleppo, leading the ongoing opposition offensive in South and South West Aleppo with the fundamentalist Islamic coalition Jaish al Fateh (Army of Conquest). Also taking part are a number of Western deemed terrorist organistions such as Jabhat Ansar al Din and the Turkistan Islamic Party. Fighting along side them on the battlefield are a number of Western deemed moderate groups.
- Western deemed moderate and fundamentalist Islamic opposition groups working together in new Aleppo offensive, Syria
Russian and Syrian forces do target Jabhat Fateh al Sham and their fundamentalist affiliates, however, because the US and their allies are not focused on Jabhat Fateh al Sham or affiliated fundamentalist Islamic groups fighting alongside it, this has allowed the narrative used by Western politicians and main stream news outlets to be that of Russian and Syrian jets attacking Western deemed moderate groups.
Russian and Syrian jets have reportedly struck Western deemed moderate groups on various occasions but the question is, how many of these attacks were due to their close proximity to, or being part of, an offensive fighting alongside fundamentalist Islamic groups and Western deemed terrorist organisations such as Jabhat Fateh al Sham? and how many targeted Western deemed moderate groups under the pretext of attacking fundamentalist Islamic groups including Western deemed terrorist organisations?
Al Qaeda is a well known Western deemed terrorist organisation, responsible for the 9/11 attacks in the US and the initial stated reason for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Jabhat Fateh al Sham (formerly Jabhat al Nusrah) is the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, it shares the same ideology, visions and goals for the future both in Syria and further afield.
Indeed Jabhat Fateh al Sham initially established itself early in the Syrian conflict as Jabhat al Nusrah and following it’s break from IS, Jabhat Fateh al Sham’s emir Abu Mohammad al Julani confirmed his groups loyalty to al Qaeda head Ayman al Zawahiri and rebuffed IS chief Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s caliphate.
Despite rebuffing IS, Jabhat Fateh al Sham share much of the same ideology, as do al Qaeda, principally it is the way in which IS imposed it’s caliphate that the groups differ.
Jabhat al Nusrah changed it’s name recently to Jabhat Fateh al Sham but it’s loyalty and respect for al Qaeda is unchanged, as is it’s ideology and vision for the future. It fights to establish an Islamic Emirate or State in Syria which is to be governed under Sharia Law.
It is a large, powerful and influential group within the opposition fighting the Syrian government and its allies including Russia and Iran. It has often lead and spear headed attacks through out the Syrian conflict in co-operation with Western deemed moderate groups prior to the recent large scale Aleppo offensive that overtly highlights this.
In November 2012 it was already described by The Washington Post as the most effective opposition group fighting in Syria.
The Washington Post article quote:
‘The extremist group is growing in part because it has been the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force.’
- The Washington Post article (30 Nov 2012) -Al-Qaeda affiliate playing larger role in Syria rebellion:
With all this in mind, it appears extremely hypocritical of the US and it’s allies to invade an entire country (Afghanistan) on the premise of a group, battle the same group in Iraq, yet in Syria the same groups close ally and affiliate is left to establish roots and strengthen year on year in plain sight of US and coalition forces. All this despite it’s clear ideological views and it’s designation by Western nations as a global terrorist organisation in 2012.
It also appears to be incredibly short sighted and echoes mistakes of the past that lessons have allegedly been learned from. Ignoring Jabhat Fateh al Sham and their affiliated fundamentalist groups and coalitions, allowing them to further strengthen their already strong base will cause massive problems further down the line in the Syrian conflict. Not only this, it appears that ignoring the group and its affiliates is being used as a political ploy.
Just as Western politicians and main stream news outlets claim that Russia is propping up the Assad government by attacking the opposition, choosing to ignore fundamentalist Islamic opposition groups openly operating on the battlefield means the US is supporting offensives and gains made by Western deemed terrorist organisations.
Finally, consider that the reason given for Western support of the opposition throughout the Syrian conflict has been the establishment of a Western style democratic, free Syria.