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In Shahail we interviewed Saleem Abu Yassir, a village elder and the commander of the local FSA brigade. He sat in a room filled with tribal fighters and machine-guns. The relationship with al-Qaida had been very difficult, he said, with the jihadis being secretive and despising the FSA and even calling them infidel secularists. But now they had opened up, co-operating with other rebel groups.

"Are they good fighters?" he threw the question rhetorically into the room. "Yes, they are, but they have a problem with executions. They capture a soldier and they put a pistol to his head and shoot him. We have religious courts and we have to try people before executing them. This abundance of killing is what we fear. We fear they are trying to bring us back to the days of Iraq and we have seen what that achieved."

Osama had told me that his group was very cautious about not repeating the Iraq experience – "they admit they made a lot of mistakes in Iraq and they are keen to avoid it", he said – but others, including a young doctor working for the revolution, were not convinced. The opposition needed to admit Al-Qaida were among them, and be on their guard.

"Who kidnapped the foreign engineers who worked in the nearby oilfield?" he asked. "They have better financing than the FSA and we have to admit they are here.

"They are stealing the revolution from us and they are working for the day that comes after."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/30/al-qaida-rebels-...

Pity the Syrian civilians sacrificed.


Regards

Tony
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