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.”
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.