Washington called on the Syrian armed opposition to stick to the breakthrough US-Russia deal and demanded that the so-called "moderate" rebels immediately disband from the allegiance with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the rebranded name for the long-time Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front.
The letter coming on the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks highlight the curious position that the Obama administration finds itself in Syria working alongside militants who are closely tied with the great granddaddy of the War on Terror – al-Qaeda – who perpetrated the most heinous attack ever committed on US soil.
US-backed rebels dominating Eastern Aleppo had joined forces with al-Nusra under the umbrella banner of The Army of Conquest in order to beat back the Assad regime’s siege of the city that prevented arms and re-enforcements into the area but also deprived the area’s residents of food and medical aid as an unintended, and arguably necessary, consequence.
Social media accounts from the rebels in addition to monitors indicate that the al-Nusra terrorists were the vanguard of the fighting force that broke through the Aleppo siege last month in a major military offensive that surprised many military analysts, but the siege has since been restored after forces loyal to the Assad government beat back the rebels in recent weeks.
Russia made clear that the separation of the rebels from hardline terrorists like al-Nusra was a cornerstone of the deal, but many of the American-backed militants are not all too eager to part ways.
"Fateh al-Sham is a faction present on the ground and it takes part in most of the military operations, and the matter of separating it is not possible, particularly given that there are attempts to merge, within some factions, with Fateh al Sham," said Fares al-Bayoush, commander of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) unit "Northern Division" as cited by Reuters.
The potential unwillingness of the rebels to comply with the demands laid out by Washington, and the group’s own admission that they are inextricably intertwined with the terrorist organization highlights the fate of the Obama administration’s current strategy aligned with the same terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers in an attempt to wage a proxy war against the Assad government instead of focusing its aims on destroying and degrading the terrorist group Daesh (ISIS).