The Syrian rebels in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) asked the United States for airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria similar to those the US performed in Iraq. The terrorist group is closing in on Aleppo, the last rebel stronghold in Syria. The group already captured towns around the huge city.
“We call on the international community to use the American air force, or those of any other country, to support the Free Syrian Army,” said the rebels in a statement.
The rebels face IS and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. In the past year, the regime did not touch IS since the jihadists also targeted the rebels. Experts believe Assad’s forces viewed them as a necessary evil to wipe out the rebels. On August 13, the Syrian army surrounded Aleppo as IS snatched Masoudiyeh, Dabiq, Akhtarin, and Ghouz from the rebels. The capture of these towns could cut off supplies to the FSA. If the rebels lose Aleppo, they will fall to Assad and possibly join IS.
“For the regime, this will be a crushing blow to the opposition as a viable fighting force and to its morale,” said Noah Bonsey, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “Some rebels may give up and seek a compromise with the regime, or look to join the only viable fighting force left, which is becoming [the Islamic State].”
Marea in the Aleppo province is next on IS’s list. On Friday, the jihadists captured Hamidiyeh and Sonbol near Marea. The rebel group Islamic Front (IF) is based in the town, but it is not nearly as powerful as it used to be. The group consists of several rebel factions in Syria that decided to join forces against Assad. The groups from the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) and some from the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF) joined the Islamic Front. SILF ended after Suqour al-Sham, Al-Tawhid Brigade, and Jaysh al-Islam, the group’s largest members, decided to join IF.
However, IF appears close to an end since Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham want to separate. Without the alliance, it leaves the rebels vulnerable to IS’s extreme violence. If IS conquers Marea, it could control north Aleppo province, which borders Turkey.
“If Marea falls, this will open the road for them (Islamic State group) to march toward all parts of northern Aleppo,” said Syrian activist Fayez Abu Quteibah.