Activists in Syria’s crumbling moderate opposition say if no one does anything about Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons, their ranks will continue to deplete as more and more fighters join up with Al Qaeda-affiliated groups.
Speaking with NBC News, the activists said there has been an uptick in the movement toward Al Qaeda because fighters want to side with a winner in the battle between Assad and the opposition: “If there is no action [over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons], everyone will be desperate. We are already desperate. We are dying. Many will join Al Qaeda. Even the educated will join them, because no one is helping.”
NBC News also spoke with new Islamist fighters who are looking for a way into Syria so they can take up ranks in the opposition as well.
One such fighter, Abu Adbul Rahman, was sitting in a safe house in southern Turkey when he said he was waiting to be smuggled into Syria: “Almighty Allah has made jihad a duty on us. When our Muslim brethren are oppressed, it is a duty to support them wherever they are, because Muslims are not separated by countries.”
He continued: “This was a dream for me, to wage jihad for Allah’s sake, because this is one of the greatest deeds in Islam, to lift aggression off my brothers, to bleed for Allah and no other.”
Rahman is but “one of thousands” of jihadists flocking to the Syrian opposition at this time.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.