Skip to comments.Al Qaeda hijacks spirit of Syria revolt three years on
Posted on 03/12/2014 6:03:18 AM PDT by mac_truck
KILLIS, ON THE TURKISH-SYRIAN BORDER - Syrian refugees in this border outpost were delighted to hear their home town of Azaz had been liberated - not from Bashar al-Assad's troops but from al Qaeda fighters who subjected them to a regime that included torture and public beheadings.
For Syrians who three years ago rose up against 43 years of Assad family rule, living under the hard-line Sunni jihadists who said they had come to save them from the president's atrocities was even worse than Assad himself.
While neither Assad nor the rebels have the upper hand, there is a growing sense among his foreign opponents that the battle for Syria has become a twin-track operation, with defeating the jihadists as important as ousting Assad.
When the uprising started in March 2011 - part of the wave of Arab Spring revolts - many Syrians had hoped either for reform or a quick end for Assad.
Three years on, Assad is still in power, while his subjects have been gassed, starved, exiled and bombed with impunity.
Many of those who initially succeeded in liberating large parts of northern Syria from government control soon found themselves under the yoke of foreign jihadists.
Syria's conflict has drawn in foreign fighters who, while ostensibly rallying to the cause of their Muslim brothers against Assad, have turned their guns on rival rebel groups.
The priority of the al Qaeda inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as one of its fighters told Reuters, is to set up an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East and on the doorstep of Europe, rather than fight the Assads.
(Excerpt) Read more at reuters.com ...
Which side is Rooters reporting on now?
Al Qaeda always has been the spirit of Syria revolt
Stories like this in Reuters are an indication of how big a problem al-Qaeda has become in Syria.
The fact they aqtre reporting that al-Qaeda is using western Iraq as an operations base is also notable.