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    Fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front drive in armed vehicles in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as they head to a frontline, on May 26, 2015

    Ex-CIA Officer: US Knows Syrian Opposition Groups Cover for al-Nusra Front

    © AFP 2017/ Fadi al-Halabi/AMC
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    Former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi said that the US government is fully aware that the allegedly moderate opposition in Syria is working closely with the al-Nusra Front, an offshoot of the al-Qaeda terror group, but publicly pretends the two groups are separate.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US government is fully aware that the allegedly moderate opposition in Syria is working closely with the al-Nusra Front, an offshoot of the al-Qaeda terror group, but publicly pretends the two groups are separate, former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi told Sputnik.

    "The so-called moderate rebels are in cohabitation with the Nusra Front, so this is not surprising," Giraldi, a former CIA Case Officer and US Army Intelligence Officer who spent 20 years overseas working on terrorism cases, said on Wednesday.

    The US government attempted to include the al-Nusra Front in the new ceasefire agreement in Aleppo, but the Russian government insisted on excluding the Islamist organization as unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Sputnik in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

    In reality, the opposition groups supported by Washington in their bid to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, were almost totally under the control of the al-Nusra Front and its masters, al-Qaeda, Giraldi pointed out.

    "Indeed, the so-called ‘moderates’ have largely been absorbed by the Nusra Front," he explained.

    The Obama administration has been well-briefed about the true relationships between the secular bodies and the al-Nusra Front behind them, but it has refused to acknowledge these realities publicly, Giraldi observed.

    "Washington is aware of the relationship, but for political reasons prefers to maintain that the two groups are separate," he stated.

    In his interview with Sputnik, Lavrov remarked that the opposition seemed to be acting as a shield of protection for al-Nusra Front military forces fighting the Syrian Army in the Aleppo area.

    Giraldi noted that top US policymakers remained determined to maintain the fiction the opposition they financed and armed were an independent and effective force.

    However, the opposition groups had no military effectiveness by themselves and have been taking credit for activities that are actually carried out by the Islamists, he continued.

    "It is part of the fantasy that our valiant moderates are having some impact in boldly confronting the Syrian Army," Giraldi maintained.

    Moreover, Giraldi agreed with Lavrov’s assessment that the moderate Syrian opposition seemed to be shielding the al-Nusra Front.

    Giraldi serves as Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest in Washington, DC.

    Related:

    Syrian Opposition Groups Still Have Ties to Nusra Front - Russia’s UN Envoy
    Lavrov: US Tried to Include Al-Nusra Front Positions in 'Silent' Period
    Tags:
    terrorism, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Al-Nusra Front, Syria
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