Kurdish Commander: Jihadi Groups in Syria Have Hijacked FSA

By MUTLU CIVIROGLU  11.8.2013 – RUDAW – The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main armed opposition to the Damascus regime, does not allow ethnic divisions within its ranks, and its Jabhat al-Akrad – or Kurdish Front – is just another unit fighting for the common goal of toppling the Damascus dictatorship, its commander said.

In an interview with Rudaw, Haji Ahmed Kurdi, head of the Kurdish unit that is part of the FSA, said that the Syrian opposition wants to remain free from ethnic divisions. “Kurds in Syria live in various Arab cities, towns, and villages. We wanted Kurds to have a common organization in these regions with other ethnicities. Therefore, we established Jabhat al Akrad,” he said.

Ahmed explained that the FSA does not form its battalions based on ethnic identity, and that they are all fighting for the same goal of toppling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

But he added that, while the Kurds in the FSA have been fighting for the same common cause, they still wanted their identity on display to highlight Kurdish participation in the Syrian revolution.

“Our purpose to choose that name was not for ethnic reasons; it was rather to highlight our own stand in the revolution,” he said.

“That is why we formed Jabhat al Akrad. The support for us can be seen in the field as we are growing steadily, and organize ourselves in all Syrian cities,” he claimed.

Kurdish opposition forces have so far formally stayed out of Syrian civil war, which is in its third year.  But there are many Kurdish fighters among the various FSA units.According to Ahmed, the Kurdish Front has 7,000 fighters. It was his unit that made the famous capture of Abu Musab, head of the extremist Islamic Jabhat al-Nusra, which is allied with the FSA, but is loyal to Al-Qaeda.Ahmed complained that radical Islamist groups, like Jabhat al-Nusra and many like it sending jihadist recruits to Syria from the Middle East and beyond — are taking over the Syrian civil war and trying to exercise Al-Qaeda’s agenda.

“They operate under a variety of different names, but are all loyal to Al-Qaeda,” Ahmed said, complaining they had virtually taken control of the FSA.

“These extremist groups were able to suppress most FSA formations, and marginalized their power. They have seized most of the institutions left from the Assad regime,” he said. The Syrian war has recently grown even more complex, with clashes between Islamist recruits and Kurdish groups in the country’s Kurdish regions. Ahmed said that the Islamist groups now controlling the FSA wanted to bring the Kurds also under their thumb. “We rejected it; that is why they are attacking us.”

Ahmed said that the threat of Islamist groups gaining control of Syria is increasing by the day. He urged the international community, especially the United States and Turkey, to exert greater pressure on the Islamic groups and lend a hand to the FSA.