Tuesday, December 10, 2013

SYRIA - Islamist Fighters, Journalist's View

"Seeing Syria's Islamist fighters through the eyes of a journalist" PBS Newshour 12/9/2013


MARGARET WARNER (Newshour):  For more than a year, the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey, a vital lifeline for Syria's rebels, was controlled by the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army.  But, Saturday, a newly formed alliance of Islamist rebels calling itself the Islamic Front took charge.

It was the latest blow to the moderate forces backed by the U.S. which initially led the armed insurgency arising from Syria's 2011 civilian protests.  As the civil war has ground on, radicalization among native Syrian rebels has grown.  And the conflict has attracted foreign jihadist fighters from throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

So, rather than a coherent force opposing Assad, there is an array of rebel groups on the moderate to extremist spectrum, the Free Syrian Army, or FSA, the new Islamic Front, including Islamist groups once allied with the FSA, the al-Qaida-linked Syrian-grown Jabhat al-Nusra, and its al-Qaida Iraqi parent, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS.

Among the few Western journalists who have had access to report in depth on these groups has been Rania Abouzeid, now a contributor to "The New Yorker" magazine.

I spoke with her Friday in Washington.

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