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Civilians turn against abusive Syria jihadists

2013-07-11

By Serene Assir – BEIRUT

Hardline Islamist factions are losing support following spate of abuses which have prompted civilians, mainstream rebel fighters alike to turn against them.

In the early days of the Syrian uprising, when opponents of the regime were desperate for assistance from any quarter, jihadist fighters were welcomed but a spate of abuses is fueling a backlash.

Things have changed.

“Out, out, out, the (Islamic) State (of Iraq and Syria) must get out,” protesters shouted at a rally in the northern town of Manbij this week, referring to an Al-Qaeda front group.

The video of the demonstration is one of many showing how civilians and mainstream rebel fighters alike are turning against the more hardline Islamist factions.

The rebel forces seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad are disparate but many espouse political Islam of one form or another.

There are two main Al-Qaeda linked factions, both with Iraqi origins, according to Washington — the Al-Nusra Front, which has operational independence, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a front for Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Numerous other smaller groups, many of them composed almost exclusively of foreign fighters, are also operating on the ground.

Unlike the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army, which has received weapons from several Gulf Arab governments as well as promises of US arms, the jihadist groups rely on private donations.

But there are enough wealthy benefactors attracted to their fundamentalist vision to ensure a steady stream of weapons, as well as volunteer fighters from around the world, many of them seasoned in other conflicts.

That has helped them become a fighting force out of proportion to their numbers, and they have captured several population centers.

But their imposition of their extreme form of Islam has increasingly alienated civilians.

In Raqa, the only provincial capital in rebel hands, the Al-Nusra Front is accused of detaining dozens of men.

“My father has been held for a month by the Front. They think they’re Islamic… I want my father to be free,” weeps a little girl in one Raqa protest, footage of which was posted online.

“We reject this oppressive brand of Islam… We are Muslims. You’re just fakes,” a woman protester cried in another video from Raqa, demanding the release of the men held by Nusra.

Activists in the city also point to the disappearance of Abdallah al-Khalil, a veteran dissident and human rights activist.

“Khalil was about to open up council elections to the whole of Raqa. Al-Nusra was against the idea. He disappeared the next day,” an activist from Raqa said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

“Although their methods differ from the regime’s, they are just as brutal.

“As they get more powerful militarily, they do whatever it takes to stem the growth of freedom in liberated (rebel-held) areas. They want power, not democracy.”

Reports emerged on Wednesday that a Raqa-based activist who has documented the uprising against Assad since its early days has been detained by ISIS.

“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria detained the media activist Mohammad Nour Matar on Tuesday evening outside its base… after he stood alongside a woman who tried to stage a sit-in,” Matar’s brother Amer said.

In Idlib province in the northwest, whose borders with Turkey have allowed foreign jihadists to join the fighting in numbers, dozens of mainstream rebels were killed in a battle with ISIS last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The fighting broke out after rebels protested against the detention by the jihadists of a 12-year-old boy accused of uttering a blasphemous phrase.

“The chief of the (Free Syrian Army-affiliated) Hamzah Assadullah Brigade and his brother were both killed” in the fighting, the Britain-based watchdog said.

“We haven’t seen many such battles, but it is clear the anger against the Islamic State and other jihadists is on the rise across Syria,” its director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The case echoed that of a 14-year-old boy executed by ISIS fighters in the main northern city of Aleppo who accused him of blasphemy for using a colloquial phrase.

Rahman said mainstream rebels appeared set for a new confrontation with their jihadist rivals in Idlib after ISIS demanded that all other groups surrender their weapons.

Nizar, an activist from the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, said: “Time is running out for all these (jihadist) groups.

“They use violence and religion to try control us and, although people are afraid to openly express their dissent, no one wants them.”

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=60033.

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Israeli ambassador flees Jordan

Thu Sep 15, 2011

The Israeli ambassador to Jordan has reportedly fled the Jordanian capital of Amman amid fears of massive anti-Israel demonstrations near its embassy over the weekend.

According to Israeli media outlets, Danny Navon and his staff have left Jordan for Israel, AFP reported on Thursday.

No other details have been published about the reported event.

Activists in Jordan have called for a “million-man march” against the Israeli mission in Amman on Thursday. The demonstration is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. local time (1530 GMT) near the embassy.

The development comes following last Friday’s massive anti-Israeli protests in Cairo, where Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli embassy in the capital city, destroying parts of a concrete barricade wall around the building in the process.

The Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon, fled the capital a few hours after the incident.

Three people were killed and many others injured in overnight clashes with the police outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

According to the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post, the mass rally in Jordan has been posted on the social networking website Facebook under the banner “No Zionist embassy on Jordanian territory.”

Jordanian protesters gathered outside the US Embassy in Amman on Wednesday, burning Israeli and American flags and demanding an end to relations with Tel Aviv and Washington.

The US has served as the closest ally of the Israeli regime, facilitating as well as justifying the majority of its grave violations against Palestinian territories and its neighboring Arab states.

Source: PressTV.
Link: http://www.presstv.com/detail/199269.html.

Facebook group demands expelling Syrian ambassador

Wed, 10/08/2011

Facebook users have launched a campaign to gather 1 million signatures in support of expelling the Syrian ambassador to Cairo.

The users, most of whom belong to the Wasat Party, said Egyptians know how Syrians feel because they’ve also seen injustice.

The campaign’s founders accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of committing crimes against humanity and called for putting him on trial.

It urged Egyptians to take part in the petition so as to persuade the government to expel the ambassador.

Source: al-Masry al-Youm.
Link: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/485142.

Gaza people celebrates Hamas foundation

14-12-2011

Al Qassam website – Gaza – Palestinian people is marking the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, foundation to affirm that it will continue all forms of resistance against the Israeli occupation until liberation, independence and the return of the Palestinian refugees.

Hamas in press statement said “On this day in the year 1987, our people started their revolution against the Israeli occupation, and made thousands of sacrifices for the sake of their land and holy sites,” Hamas’ statement reads, “Our people are still steadfast, determined to achieve full unity, and despite Israel’s excessive use of force, and bombardment, they are determined to achieve liberation, and to establish their independent state.”

The movement further stated that the Palestinian people, wherever their reside, share the strongest ties to their land and their identity, “…and will always remain united and determined to liberate Palestine and its holy sites.”

It also stated that all Arab and Muslim nations support the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people, despite the idleness of the international community, and the military and financial support the United States and other Western countries provide Israel with to maintain its illegal occupation of Palestine.

More than 1,500 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli forces during the first Intifada, while at least 120,000 were injured. Israel also arrested a total of 120,000 Palestinians and displaced more than 150,000.

The Ministry of Information in Gaza reported that the number of Palestinians who were killed since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada in late September 2000 until now, arrived at more than 7,404, including at least 1,859 children, and more than 800 women. The number of wounded Palestinians exceeded 42,400.

Source: Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades – Information Office.
Link: http://www.qassam.ps/news-5186-Gaza_people_celebrates_Hamas_foundation.html.

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