Great, So Now Syria’s a FOUR-WAY Fight?

Car bomb explodes as rebels turn on each other

Great, So Now Syria’s a FOUR-WAY Fight? Great, So Now Syria’s a FOUR-WAY Fight?

Uncategorized September 25, 2013 0

Bab Al Hawa bombing on Sept. 17. Juma Al Qassim photo Great, So Now Syria’s a FOUR-WAY Fight? Car bomb explodes as rebels turn... Great, So Now Syria’s a FOUR-WAY Fight?
Bab Al Hawa bombing on Sept. 17. Juma Al Qassim photo

Great, So Now Syria’s a FOUR-WAY Fight?

Car bomb explodes as rebels turn on each other

A car bomb exploded at a rebel complex in northern Syria just before midnight on Sept. 24, reportedly killing three people and injuring others, including a rebel officer.

The bombing, audible miles away in neighboring Turkey, occurred at around the same time that several Islamic rebel groups, including one of those at the bombed complex, announced a new alliance apparently meant to draw a clear line between them and a more radical group of mostly foreign fighters.

If the bombing targeted the newly declared rebel alliance—and it’s not totally clear that it did—it could signal that the increasingly complex and bloody Syrian civil war is now a four-way fight pitting the regime of Syrian Pres. Bashar Al Assad versus secular rebels versus Islamic rebels versus even more Islamic rebels.

That is to say, an even unholier mess than before.

Mohammad Ali. Ahfad Al Rasool photo

The car packed with munitions exploded at 11:30 at night while parked near a pair of structures situated on a side road near the Bab Al Hawa border crossing between Turkey and Syria. The blast killed civilians standing nearby and damaged structures belonging to two rebel groups: Ahfad Al Rasool and Ahrar Al Sham. Among those injured was Ahfad Al Rasool officer Mohammad Ali, according to one local report.

The explosives were apparently remotely triggered. A source on the ground speculated that the bomb might have been meant to hit the nearby Bab Al Hawa border crossing—a much bigger target— but was set off early by accident. The crossing was previously bombed in daytime on Sept. 7, as seen in the video below. That attack killed seven people, all civilians.

Sources at the scene speculated that the Sept. 24 bombing was orchestrated by the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria, a militant Islamic group composed of mostly foreigners that has declared war on the other rebels including the main Free Syrian Army, which takes pains to portray itself as secular.

In mid-September the FSA and ISIS fought for control of Azaz, a town near the Turkish border. That fighting made official the 30-month-old civil war’s then three-way split between ISIS’ estimated 10,000 Islamic rebels, the FSA’s 200,000 secular rebels and Al Assad’s regime forces (and Hezbollah allies) numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

In the hours following the midnight bombing, Ahfad Al Rasool officer Abu Maan was careful not to point a finger at ISIS. “We don’t accuse anybody,” he said.

Maan’s reluctance to assign blame could reflect the delicate relations between Ahfad Al Rasool and the more radical—and foreign—ISIS. On the same night as the more recent bombing, Ahfad Al Rasool and 12 other rebel groups announced the formation of a new military alliance separate from the main Free Syrian Army.

In addition to Ahfad Al Rasool, with its roughly 10,000 fighters, the new alliance includes Al Nusrah, one of the more militant rebel groups composed strictly of Syrians. In its announcement, the new alliance specifically rejected the leadership of the U.S.-backed Syrian National Coalition, the political organization that represents the FSA.

The alliance’s announcement “could be a preparatory step—a pragmatic consolidation that precedes any sort of direct confrontation with ISIS,” the Washington, D.C. Institute for the Study of War proposed. It seems unlikely the new alliance intends to also fight the FSA, but it’s not clear whether the two organizations will cooperate at all.

Yes, we’re as confused as you are.

Rejecting the FSA and standing up to ISIS while also continuing to oppose the regime would seem to place the recent alliance into a new, fourth armed camp, adding even more chaos to a grinding war that has already claimed more than 100,000 lives and befuddled foreign governments.