Largest US funded/trained Syrian group officially disbands
by Kyle Rogers
The latest neo-con dream team of “moderate Sunni rebels” is officially disbanding. Most are becoming part of a network run by the hardline Islamic Front.
For much of the past year, Harakat al-Hazm (also commonly spelled Harakat Hazzm) was the largest US funded, trained, and armed “rebel brigade” fighting in Syria. It was formed in January of 2014 as a merger of several small brigades. It is part of the network known as the “Free Syria Army,” which is enthusiastically supported by American neo-con leaders like John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Just last April, the Washington Institute said al-Hazm were “rebels worth supporting.” The Institute said the group was “a model candidate for greater U.S. and allied support, including lethal military assistance.”
The same month, the Washington Times gleefully reported that the USA was arming al-Hazm fighters with American made BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles. The missile program was spearheaded by US Senator John McCain.
By September 2014, neo-con think tanks were humiliated when al-Hazm issued a formal statement denouncing the USA.
They condemn the USA for bombing ISIS on Syria soil. The group called the bombing of ISIS targets by the USA “an attack on the revolution.” They also condemned the USA for only giving them small arms and anti-tank missiles. al-Hazm claimed that the US only gave them weaponry that would keep them in the fight, but not turn the tide against the Ba’athist government. They accused the USA of wanting to perpetuate the fighting without one side ever winning.
One of the administration’s favored moderate rebel factions, Harakat Hazm, part of the Free Syrian Army alliance and a recipient of U.S. missiles and training, issued a statement Tuesday denouncing the “external intervention” — that is, the U.S.-led bombing campaign in Syria — as “an attack on the revolution.”
The group said its main goal was toppling Assad. It is demanding “unconditional arming” of the Free Syrian Army, yet its members also acknowledge fighting alongside Al Nusra Front, the official Al Qaeda force in Syria.
The group has been mostly operating in the Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria. This is an area dominated by the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhet al-Nusra Front, or al-Nusra for short. al-Hazm was not only allied with al-Nusra, but has been fighting side by side with them for months. Essentially, the United States spent much of 2014 funding, training, and arming al-Nusra’s reserve team.
Then in October of 2014, there was a huge change in the power structure in the Idlib and Aleppo Governorates. To compete with ISIS, al-Nusra announced they were building their own rival state. al-Nusra and ISIS also seemed to make peace in the region.
Between October 26th and 29th, al-Nusra attacked al-Hazm, as well as the US backed Syrian Revolutionary Front [SRF]* in four different Governorates. Casualties were light on both sides. However, al-Nusra seized control of dozens of villages that were formerly controlled by al-Hazm or SRF. Fighters from other hardline groups, including ISIS, are believed to have supported the al-Nusra offensive.
This triggered a downward spiral for al-Hazm and SRF. After al-Nusra swept across dozens of villages controlled by SRF, thousand of US sponsored SRF fighters defected to al-Nusra in November 2014.
On February 25th, al-Nusra formerly declared war on al-Hazm. On March 1st, al-Nusra seized bases of al-Hazm. On March 2nd, al-Hazm announced that they were disbanding and joining the Levant Front network.
The Levant Front is led by the hardline Islamic Front, a group sponsored by Saudi Arabia. The Levant Front is formerly allied with al-Nusra and opposes ISIS.
It is possible that al-Nusra turned on al-Hazm and SRF to combat ISIS propaganda. American funded groups are, at least on paper, “pro-democracy.” ISIS claims this means they are heretics. ISIS used al-Nusra’s alliance with American backed groups as a major source of propaganda against al-Qaeda.
What we see happening is the Free Syrian Army [FSA] network is a conveyor belt into more hardline groups. The US gives new FSA fighters money, supplies, training camps in Jordan and Qatar, guns, and missiles. Within months, many of the these new fighters a part of the Islamic Front, al-Nusra, or even ISIS.
ISIS also boast that FSA fighters routinely sell their American hardware to more hardline groups. ISIS jokingly calls the FSA “the arms dealers” in their literature.
Presently Obama is preparing to arm and train thousands of new FSA fighters. He says that these fighters will be given radios to call in airstrikes. The will continue the Obama/Neo-Con “moderate rebel” to hardline Jihadist conveyor belt for another year.
* The two groups, al-Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front, had been a major part of what is commonly called the Free Syria Army.
Below: al-Hazm fighters demonstrate an American made TOW anti-tank missile. These missiles will now be used on behalf of al-Nusra and other hardline groups.