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Former Ambassador Says Paris Attacks to Change Opinions of Syria Opposition

© East News / Nish NalbandianSyrian Revolutionaries Front is a moderate Syrian Opposition group fighting against both the Syrian Army and The Islamic State
Syrian Revolutionaries Front is a moderate Syrian Opposition group fighting against both the Syrian Army  and The Islamic State - Sputnik International
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Former US Ambassador to Syria claims that the connection between the terrorists who planned attacks in Paris last week and the al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula franchise, the al-Nusra Front, is going to change how US and European policymakers view their support for Syrian rebel groups.

WASHINGTON, January 16 (Sputnik) — The connection between the terrorists who planned attacks in Paris last week and the al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) franchise, the al-Nusra Front, is going to change how US and European policymakers view their support for Syrian rebel groups, former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said on Thursday.

“What happened in Paris will change how people think about the Syria conflict,” Ford said at a Thursday New America Foundation conference, adding that leaders of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) should “think about who they are working with.”

A policeman stands guard outside the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris - Sputnik International
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Continued western support for the FSA is increasingly complicated by reports of ties between at least one of the suspects in last week’s terror attacks in Paris to AQAP. Ford stated it was “a myth” to believe the United States and Europe “are going to increase assistance to the [Syrian] opposition when the opposition collaborates with the Nusra Front.”

Ford explicitly referred to on the ground collaboration between members of the Free Syrian Army and the AQAP franchise al Nusra Front. He noted that the groups collaborated against the Syria’s Bashar al Assad regime and the United States looked in a different direction.

“I think the days of us looking the other way are finished,” Ford stated.

The United States began officially arming and training individuals it designated as moderate rebels when Congress passed a measure authorizing a $500 million train and equip program in their September 2014 government spending bill.

The US State Department designated al-Nusra a terrorist organization in 2012. It has denounced cooperation between the FSA and al Nusra, but admitted publicly in 2013 that there were overlapping elements between the groups.

 

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