'Moderate' Syrian Rebels Post Videos of Attack on Christian Town
The U.S.-backed Syrian rebel faction known as the Free Syrian Army has posted videos of their attack this past week on the ancient city of Maaloula. The attacks on the Christian village came one day after Sec. of State Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, “There is a real moderate opposition that exists. General Idriss is running the military arm of that."
While both Sec. of State Kerry and Sen. John McCain have touted the Free Syrian Army as moderates, the videos posted by the group itself show that they were fighting alongside sworn al Qaeda jihadists in an attempt to 'liberate' the Christian village.
Maaloula may be a key religious target for Muslim jihadists fighters because of it's symbolic significance. It's a small village of about 3,300 people northeast of Damascus and one of few remaining places that still speaks Aramaic, the language Jesus probably spoke.
Previous reports had indicated that the attack on the town was carried out by al Qaeda-linked rebels. While it's true that the al Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra group was attacking the village alongside the extremist Ahrar al Sham, it's now clear that the Free Syrian Army also participated in the attack.
The New York Times posted one video on Thursday under the headline "Free Syrian Army and Qaeda-Linked Rebels Attack Ancient Town" but failed to point out the connection to Kerry's statements at the Senate hearing. The Times also posted text with the video under the subtitle "What We Know":
In June, the United States committed to aiding the Free Syrian Army despite concerns that materials or money given to it might also benefit rebels linked to Al Qaeda. Malula is one of three towns in Syria where Aramaic is still spoken in daily life.
Other clips posted on YouTube by the Free Syria Army show more of the battle for Maaloula.
One video shows chaotic fighting inside Maaloula; the description posted says that it shows the Ahrar Baba Amr battalion of the Free Syria Army. Another video was uploaded by the supposedly moderate Free Syrian Army with the comment, "Thanks to Allah, the liberation of the ancient city of Maloula," and shows rebels holding a position inside the town. A fourth video posted by the group shows a small group of rebels pointing at a building.
Maaloula was under siege for days until the Syrian government sent in reinforcements and forced the rebel forces into retreat.
President Obama will address Americans on Tuesday about his plan to launch an attack against the Syrian government.