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Copy and pasted here last week from the Wikipedia article cited:

Here is a Wikipedia listing for detailing armed strength on the rebel side (not including third-way Kurdish forces):

Syria Free Syrian Army: 50,000[4] – 80,000[25]

Syria Syrian Islamic Liberation Front: 37,000[4] (by May 2013)
 Syrian Islamic Front: 13,000[4] (by May 2013)
 Al-Nusra Front: 6,000[4] (by June 2013)
 Foreign Mujahideen: 10,000 (by August 2013)[26]

Should we add up up the two units with “Islamic” in the title and the known “Al-Nusra Front” and predictably passionate “Mujahideen” to suggest that the tide in Islamic fanatics numbers more than 66,000 souls.

Here comes “shimmer“!

On my desktop at the moment: “Al Qaeda militants kill 24 civilians near Ras al-Ain,” Alalam, September 2, 2013, published out of Iran:

Al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria have beheaded all 24 Syrian passengers traveling from Tartus to Ras al-Ain in northeast of Syria, among them a mother and a 40-days old infant.

The piece launched by Iran’s anti-western / anti-American press has been picked up by similar other press, but it dovetails nicely with the existential state of affairs for Syria’s Kurdish community, which has indeed gathered and risen to meet the onslaught ventured by the Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria (on this blog, see “Kurdistan – Rojava” published last Thursday, August 29, 2013).

Anyone sincerely interested in quelling the latest in the Syrian theater’s celebration of death will have to stand against the same on the familiar two fronts:

  • the brutal dictatorship that has tried flying the false false-flag of a chemical weapons attack only to find the evidence running against it and the global conscience not as numbed as it might today wish;
  • and the brutal fanaticism of benighted murderers who apparently believe the spilling of Kurdish and other blood has a divine tint to it.

Out here on the virtual berm overlooking the Wild Wild Web, one may wish, albeit with care, for broader, more frequent, and vetted professional journalism from the “back of beyond” in humanity, but the same that sling informational dirt in abundance — and sometimes create it under the “false flag” concept — have a bad reputation with journalists and assorted other do-gooders on various missions to feed, heal, or witness.

* * *

“We think if there is no strike, the regime is going to use chemical weapons and to kill, I’m afraid to say that in the coming days, not coming weeks, to kill more than 20,000 or 30,000 people, of our people … and that’s why we are waiting now for our friends in the Congress to make the right decision to support the president’s decision,” Idris said.

Kopan, Tal.  “Syrian rebel general backs Barack Obama.”  Politico, September 2, 2013.

Of the many personalities to which the world has been introduced in relation to Syria’s civil war, General Salim Idris may stand out as one with the cleanest hands in the mess.  While fighting with the Assad regime, its Idris’s commanders who fight also with Al Qaeda, but how that works Out There — and how it works out — seems another patch for guesswork.

Or just plain guessing.

The braver than ever I will be Bill Roggio has been working this territory in his Long War Journal for months.  The headlines and brief excerpts provide the contour of this part part of the story:

“Free Syrian Army issues ultimatum to al Qaeda over murder of commander.”  July 13, 2013.  From the cap on that piece:

Additionally, the killing of commanders and fighters by rival rebel groups is nothing new in Syria. Islamists have killed FSA commanders in the past, and vice versa. These incidents often occur due to local rivalries and competition for resources, not for ideological reasons. In this recent killing of an FSA commander, the issue wasn’t ideology, but access to a checkpoint in order to deploy forces

That’s some rough “office politics”!

* * *

“Free Syrian Army arming al Qaeda, ISIL, commander claims.”  July 16, 2013.

* * *

Fast forward to last week:

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, one of two al Qaeda affiliates operating in Syria, announced that it would coordinate with other Syrian rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, to take revenge for a chemical weapons attack last week in the capital that is said to have killed more than 300 people.

Roggio, Bill.  “Al Qaeda, rebel groups vow to avenge chemical attack in Syria.”  The Long War Journal, August 27, 2013.

Roggio goes into detail about the makeup of the field and relationships on it, leaving doubts about General Idris’s control of FSA human assets and war materiel.

* * *

Grappling with largely untrained and at times undisciplined fighters, Salim Idris said in an interview that he is trying to turn local militias into a united force of some 120,000 men for a final push against President Bashar Assad.

Laub, Karin.  “New Syria Rebel Chief Describes Clandestine Life.”  AP, The Big Story, December 19, 2012.

Critics say the newly unified command structure he presides over lacks both the ground presence and the heavy weapons that are so desperately needed. Without both, they say, it will be impossible for him to forge a cohesive force from the thousands of fractious, fiercely independent rebel brigades arrayed against the still formidable military of President Bashar al-Assad.

MacFarquhar, Neil.  “Syrian Rebel Leader Deals with Ties to Other Side.”  The New York Times, March 1, 2013.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Daniel Nisman noted back in June, “By bolstering the SMC, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia likely hope to incentivize rebel groups to become more moderate in their ideologies in order to meet their requirements for future military aid” (Nisman, Daniel, “The First Real Test for Moderates in the Syrian Opposition,” The Blog, Huffington Post, June 17, 2013).

I fear to say it but may suggest to the public relations folk representing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and others interested in planting a new Sunni Islam state in Syria: the global anti-Jihad — call them “Islamophobes” if thou wish — ain’t buying the phrase “incentivize to become more moderate in their ideologies.” In such ears and minds, from the desktops of the masses to the halls of Congress, the Is’phobes are still trying to figure out if there is a moderate Islam given milepost statements like this one (from 2008):

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rejected attempts to call Turkey the representative of moderate Islam. “It is unacceptable for us to agree with such a definition. Turkey has never been a country to represent such a concept. Moreover, Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not,” Erdoğan said, speaking at Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies late Thursday.

Hurriyet Daily News.  “Prime Minister objects to ‘moderate Islam’ label.”  (2008).

* * *

The moderate minded may find agreeably present and numerous Muslim humanists as contemporary and humanist as any Christian, Jewish, or other contemporary liberal humanist on earth this day — and effectively comprising substantial societies, as did that which unseated President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt recently — but in Syria, the voice raising Cain and getting plenty of the world’s attention isn’t that one: it’s this other that promises moderation while other of its kin abet the funding those with whom Syria’s Kurdish Community finds itself fighting for its very existence.

So General Idris may find himself the voice of moderation but not the commander of it throughout his battle space.

I would like to see this article updated: “AFP, “Syrian rebel chief Idriss emerges as key interlocutor for west,” Al Arabiya, June 14, 2013.

It has got the theme right: General Idris is a modern man, a reasoning man, a good man, but out in the field, the barbaric act of just one soldier reaching into the chest cavity of one of the fallen to pull out an organ and take a bit of it has dampened that image, and, so far, that damage has not been reversed.

From Paul Wood’s article referenced above (inline):

“We condemn what he did,” said the general. “But why do our friends in the West focus on this when thousands are dying? We are a revolution not a structured army. If we were, we would have expelled Abu Sakkar. But he commands his own battalion, which he raised with his own money. Is the West asking me now to fight Abu Sakkar and force him out of the revolution? I beg for some understanding here.”

Wood, Paul.  “Face-to-face with Abu Sakkar, Syria’s ‘heart-eating cannibal’.  BBC, July 5, 2013.

* * *

To say, “they don’t think like we do” is to distill with a cliche the ambiguity shown General Idris down to its cognitive, linguistic, and spiritual essence.

The embrace of barbarism and cruelty, the belief that greater demonstrations of both serve to control one’s enemies, in fact sabotage Syria’s revolutionary front even though Assad’s army and its behavior, perhaps keeping in line with that description of the grammar of the conflict, exceeds in scope and intensity the same lunacy.

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