Al-Qaeda rebel groups such as Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham (ISIS) in Syria are fighting against non-Islamist rebel fighters belonging to Free Syrian Army (FSA), according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal.
As the Syrian government plans a ceasefire to end the civil war that claimed almost 100,000 lives in two years, the ISIS has begun a new battle campaign billed "Expunging Filth" against FSA fighters. Given the fighting amongst the opposition forces, the United States might want to rethink its decision to arm rebels.
The clash between moderate and jihadist rebels, however, is not a latest occurrence. It has been going on for a while now. In July, one of FSA’s senior commanders Kamal Hamami was killed by an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Al-Qaeda members mainly comprise of Sunni jihadists who want to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to establish an Islamic state in Syria. They are involved in hunting down and killing Alawites and Shiites, who are seen as non-believers or traitors of Islam. These extremists also kidnap and kill Western-backed, moderate rebel groups such as the FSA, ‘expunging filth’ as part of their campaign.
The main problem with these rebel groups lies within their ideologies. Apparently they share a single goal that is to overthrow Assad. The broader motives, however, inconspicuously differ.
With more al-Qaeda factions joining the rebel forces, who can guarantee the weapons, if supplied by the US, will not fall into the wrong side of the rebels?
While the opposition groups fight among themselves, the Syrian government wants to end the conflict on its part.
“Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," Syrian deputy prime minister told the Guardian. “This zero balance of forces will not change for a while,” he said.
The situation has changed. Even if the Syrian government backs out, the internal conflict among the rebel groups will remain in the equation and hostilities will continue.