Muhammad Al Ghazi
Is the USA’s targeting killings of key figures in Islamic movements in the Syrian conflict aiding Bashar’s regime?
A few days ago an American drone flew over skies in rebel held northern Syria. The target was a man who the pentagon described as a “leader in Al-Qaeda”. Surely enough a button was pressed somewhere across the Atlantic and someone who happened to be in a car near the northern Syrian town of Jisr Al-Shughoor was killed.
So just who is this person that was killed? Why was he killed? Why was it so important for the USA to kill him? Does the killing of this man aid the oppressed Syrian people, does it aid the Syrian regime, or something in between?
The man who was killed is known as Abu Faraj Al-Misri. He is an Egyptian national and “an old Jihadist”. Abu Faraj Al-Misri is reported to have fought against the Russians in Afghanistan, it is also reported that he had travelled to other countries to take part in Jihadi activities. Reports mention that he was a founding member of a Jihadi movement in Egypt known as “Islamic Jihad” in the seventies. He was once sentenced to 7 years in prison for his involvement in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Ahmed Salamah Mabrook (which is Abu Faraj’s birth name) was also at one point sentenced to life in prison after being captured by the CIA and handed over to the Egyptian government for his involvement in the Albanian conflict. Abu Faraj was pardoned by president Morsi on his assuming office, he then travelled to Syria and assumed a position as Abu Muhammad Al-Jolaniee’s right hand man until he was killed.
Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said regarding the drone strike: “We have carried out a drone strike on a leader of Al-Qaeda in Syria and we are currently evaluating the success of this operation”. It is clear from this statement that the US still labels Jabhat Fath Al-Sham (JFS) as “Al-Qaeda” even though Fath Al-Sham publicly stated that they had broken links with Al-Qaeda earlier this year.
The enmity between the US and Al Qaeda is in no way new. Al-Qaeda is viewed by the United States as a group which threatens their national security. However, the question is “what do these old problems have to do with Fath Al-Sham?” Fath Al-Sham’s leader has clearly stated that the focus of his group is the “Syrian conflict” and has no interest in “expanding it’s borders”. Fath Al-Sham is not known to have carried out a single attacks anywhere outside of the Syrian conflict nonetheless the pentagon believes that “it is targeting Al-Qaeda in Syria”.
If the American government is genuine about helping the oppressed Syrian people they simply would not target Fath Al-Sham’s leaderships. Certain realities, whether they are palatable or not, have to be realized. While Fath Al-Sham certainly has foreign fighters within their ranks, it is a group who’s fighters are primarily Syrian. The Syrian people have chosen to stand by Fath Al-Sham as was made clear after multiple political attempts to marginalise and isolate the rebel group. The most recent of these attempts being the Kerry-Lavrov “ceasefire” agreement. Attempts to isolate Fath Al-Sham will also further increase Syrian resentment to international agreements and those who make them.
So who do these targeted killings benefit in reality? Without a doubt they clearly benefit the Syrian regime. Recently Fath Sham commander Abu Umar Saraqib was killed in a drone strike which is believed to have been conducted by the coalition. The assassination took was carried out while he and his aides were in a meeting which is reported to have been regarding the organisation of forces to break the siege around Aleppo and free 350,000 trapped civilians. Jabha Fath Sham played a principal role, along with other groups, in breaking the siege the first time and paved the way for aid, food, the flow of residents to come in and out of the city.
In conclusion the Syrian regime is the real beneficiary from targeted killings as those targeted killings are carried out exclusively on the opposition side and never on the regime side. All of this in spite of the fact that Assad’s forces have killed a half million Syrians and his allies include groups that are on the US’s terror list like Hizbollah of Lebanon. It is therefore clear that the targeted assassination program needs to be revised in light of the realities on the ground in this nearly 6 year old conflict.
The sentiments expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of On the Ground News