America nearly bombed allies in Syria, report

US airstrikes syrias
Last week, an airstrike from the American-led coalition nearly hit a command-and-control facility affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the moderate rebels the Obama administration says are America’s “boots on the ground,” according to two opposition leaders. They are asking the Obama administration to please coordinate with them in the future before America bombs its only allies in Syria.

Since U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria began on Sept. 22, there has been no coordination between the U.S. military and its alleged partners on the ground, according to FSA leaders, civilian opposition leaders, and intelligence sources who have been briefed on the U.S. and allied military operation. It’s this lack of communication that led to an airstrike that hit only 200 meters from an FSA facility in the suburbs of Idlib. One source briefed on the incident said multiple FSA fighters were killed in the attack.

“Unfortunately, there is zero coordination with the Free Syrian Army. Because there is no coordination, we are seeing civilian casualties. Because there is no coordination, they are hitting empty buildings for ISIS,” Hussam Al Marie, the spokesman for the FSA in northern Syria, told The Daily Beast. “We have been getting promises that the coordination will be coming, but we have been getting promises since the beginning of this revolution and nothing has happened yet.”

The incident, which was not been previously reported, doesn’t just highlight the gap between the U.S. and its newly-endorsed allies in the moderate opposition, however. It also shows how complicated it can be to make alliances in the multi-factioned Syrian civil war. The coalition airstrike was targeting a base used by al Nusrah, the local al Qaeda affiliate. And the camp was, essentially, next door to the FSA facility. The al Qaeda fighters and the U.S-endorsed rebels were neighbors—and, at times, partners in battle against ISIS and the Bashar al-Assad regime.

“Because there is no coordination, [the U.S.-led coalition] hit an al Nusrah base in the Idlib suburbs that is only 200 meters from the Free Syrian Army,” Al Marie said.

There were 11 civilian casualties after the first day of U.S.-led airstrikes inside Syria, according to the FSA, and at least one more when the coalition struck a Shariah Court near Idlib two days ago that was under the control of al Nusrah. The U.S. government has said it cannot confirm any civilian casualties but will investigate any accidents.

“There are always civilian casualties when they are hitting al Nusrah because al Nusrah is just living among the people,” said Al Marie. “They didn’t do any real harm to ISIS, the buildings of ISIS were empty. Meanwhile, the main battle on the ground against ISIS hasn’t been supported yet. That’s the important thing, the ground battle.”

In the fight against ISIS in northern Syria, the FSA often fights alongside other rebel groups with varying levels of Islamic flavor: the Islamic Front, the Tawheed Brigade, and even the al Qaeda-linked al Nusrah Front. FSA fighters are moving around the area all the time and sometimes have to pass through al Nusrah checkpoints to get where they are going. And yet, according to the Obama administration, these moderate rebels can be trusted—despite their alliances of convenience with al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. (On Sunday, the leader of al Nusrah made his first public statement in eight months, telling moderate rebels that his group, and not the United States, was their true partner.)

Now, in addition to the Assad regime and ISIS, they have to worry about getting killed by U.S. and coalition airstrikes on al Nusrah targets too. Already, one Syrian rebel group supported in the past by the United States condemned the aerial attacks, calling them “an attack on national sovereignty” and demanding that the West train its firepower on Assad instead. To make matters worse, some FSA leaders now say that the airstrikes are threatening to push many rebel groups—including al Nusrah—back toward the side of ISIS.

“Before there were terrorists fighting terrorists. Now, after the airstrikes, you could see them working together against a common enemy (the United States), which is not what we want to see at all,” said Al Marie.

In President Obama’s Sept. 10 speech to the nation announcing his new strategy against ISIS, the president said, “We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to” ISIS. He then called on Congress to authorize a program to train and equip 5,000 rebels per year in Saudi Arabia, which they did. Sunday night on CBS’s 60 Minutes, the President defended his decision to avoid arming the moderate Syrian rebels for the last two years, as most of his top national security officials had recommended.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said the FSA would be America’s boots on the ground in Syria and are a crucial part of the coalition strategy to defeat ISIS and then eventually work to oust Assad.

“The president has been very clear. This is going to be a long-term effort. It’s going to be sustained and it’s going to be more effective because we’re going to be working with partners on the ground, not sending in hundreds of thousands of Americans,” he said.

But a week into the strikes, the FSA hasn’t heard anything from the Obama administration or the U.S. military about where the strikes are, how they can help make them effective, or even how to avoid getting killed by U.S. bombs and missiles. And because Obama doesn’t want American boots on the ground, there are no U.S. air controllers to guide in the strikes. Throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military found that such personnel were essential for minimizing civilian casualties.

‘This is really dangerous,” said Al Marie. “I really don’t know what’s the strategic plan for these airstrikes, how they are doing it. I can’t believe it, our friends are doing this big thing in our country and here we are, their friends, and they won’t coordinate with us.”

The U.S.-led airstrikes have not done any significant damage to ISIS, Al Marie said, because the group moved all of their command and control, valuable weaponry, money, and even family members to new locations after Obama announced publicly the airstrikes were coming.

Another civilian Syrian opposition official told The Daily Beast that the lack of coordination was such a big problem, Syrian National Coalition President Hadi al Bahra pressed National Security Advisor Susan Rice last week in New York to set up a joint coordination center with the FSA for the operations to fight ISIS. Rice was noncommittal, the official said, but the opposition leadership is trying hard to get the Obama administration to start working more with the FSA.

“The FSA is passing on solid targeting information about ISIS and Nusrah. We don’t know if they are using it or not,” the opposition official said. “We’re hoping that the campaign will eventually transition to one of close air support based on mutual intelligence sharing.”

Major Curtis Kellogg, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, told The Daily Beast he could not comment on the FSA’s allegation that the coalition had struck an al Nusrah base right next to a moderate rebel headquarters.

“As a matter of policy, we’re not going to discuss the specifics of our targeting process, coordination or intelligence, but based on our ISR capabilities and careful evaluation, we have high confidence in the ISIL and Khorasan Group targets we have chosen,” Kellogg said, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS and its name for a cadre of veteran al Qaeda planners.

Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, said the Obama administration is not coordinating with the FSA because it still doesn’t believe it can trust the FSA with sensitive information about ongoing military operations. But that also means the FSA can’t capitalize after the strikes by taking over the territory that has been cleared.

“Everybody knows you can’t bomb your way out of this problem, and if your game plan is for the moderate opposition to fill up that vacuum, then it would seem it’s important the moderate rebels benefit,” he said. “We need to win the opposition over to our side and this doesn’t help that at all. And if this continues, the Assad regime will be the main party to benefit.”

By announcing that U.S. airstrikes would be paired with help for the FSA but then not delivering that help quickly or even talking to the FSA, the U.S. is putting the moderate rebels in the worst possible position and needlessly harming the effectiveness of the mission, said Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an American-based organization that works with the Syrian opposition, and political director of United for a Free Syria.

“You are helping alienate the FSA from their popular support on the ground and you are risking ISIS regrouping or allowing the regime to take over these areas, which contradicts the stated policy of the president of the United States,” he said.

The daily Beast

  • vs

    Cyprus: stolen Degas painting worth 6 million euros. Police are searching for a Russian

    • 5thDrawer

      Must have been stolen from the guy with the second-most expensive yacht.

  • vs

    Eruption Ontake in Japan, the number of victims grows

  • vs

    In California, shot and killed the mayor of the city of Bell Gardens 45-year-old Daniel Crespo http://abcnews.go.com/US/bell-gardens-california-mayor-daniel-crespo-shot-killed/story?id=25877714

    • 5thDrawer

      Approx. 30,000 a year die by gun in the USA …

      • vs

        30,000 mostly not mayors

  • 5thDrawer

    It’s ok … a ‘Miss is as good as a Mile’. :-)) ‘ALMOST’ doesn’t make a great headline. Idiots.

    • Hind Abyad

      So what if they’re going to alienate the opposition which one? FSA General is friend with ISIS so is McCain, the moderate are Al Nusra now said Robert Ford: they are US allies. What a mess.
      Al Arabiah Saudi paper said today, ISIS plots to seize Iran nuclear secrets, and urging it’s fighters to plan for War with Iran, so they can’t be as powerful if they didn’t have the backing of SA and US, and oh, my God ..that’s what Netanyahu is pestering Obama about for years..Saudi and Israel can not be ISIS enemies. Red circle ISIS

      • 5thDrawer

        The pop-up ‘Selfie’. :-))
        Hollywood loves to stage them too … but it began with opportunism.

        • Hind Abyad

          What’s that..

          • 5thDrawer

            I don’t know the lingo … it’s where people pop into a picture at the back when everyone poses while looking at the cell-phone.

          • Hind Abyad

            it was a part of a picture, the ISIS was hiding in the back..

          • 5thDrawer

            Body-guards? ‘Handlers’? I’m sure McCain wouldn’t know … he would just smile at anyone and everyone … the politician thinking ‘Everyone loves me. Smile for the camera.’ :-))
            The ISIS guy couldn’t do anything … he didn’t have the beard yet. :-))))))

          • Hind Abyad
          • 5thDrawer

            Naivety is one of my ‘endearing qualities’ … I have always wanted to trust that people didn’t want to hurt me too bad. I never began right off the bat being suspicious of ‘ulterior motives’ … not even of the women who tried to get my clothes off. After all, I figured, we can all enjoy anatomy lessons. 😉
            Oh well … fact-finding comes later … I know when to run.
            I thought …. :-)))
            (wonder if that child in the picture has red hair … hmmmmm)

          • Hind Abyad

            I am naivety itself, in my teens i was surrounded by Intellectuals, writers and ..famous adults (of course dead now), i could hear from my timid retreat i was a subject of discussion (at that moment) whether it was naivety or innocence, the verdict was “naive, not innocent”

            My naivety kept me alive..but when i say ‘i was naive’, I’m Unforgiving forever..it’s impossible to be naive on same subject person or persons ever again..
            While you say “i never began right off the bat being suspicious of ‘ulterior motives’.
            In your last drawers you’re not naive anymore but rather blasé.
            Look in your second drawer, did follow Irak invasion?
            Third drawer, Libya? 4th drawer, Syria?
            If you followed McCain, Robert Ford, Senator Lindsey Graham, the artisans of apocalypse in the region and of all wars in ME and Asia Minor, friends of right wing Likud and saw nothing, you’re blind.

            1% are informed. France’s Bernard Henry Levy
            ‘The Prince’ Jewish Elite War manipulators, are trying to deny mad McCain photos because of Coalition War on ISIS.
            Still their arrogance defies the imagination, Robert Ford Ambassador to Irak Libya Syria, wrote an op end article in NYT last week:
            Remember our allies in Syria: Al Nusra moderate ‘Syrian rebels’ (Syrians?)..who kidnapped few Cardinals last week. YaLibnan “America nearly bombed allies in Syria”

          • MaImequer0

            That’s funny sweetie, “My naivety kept me alive.”… then you’re going to live forever (unfortunately)… as you naively believe any conspiracy and spout whatever colour smoke that’s blown up your butt…..☻

          • Hind Abyad

            Find a job, go work.

          • 5thDrawer

            But Hind … I don’t hold a lifelong grudge against those who taught me I should NOT be like them. I just don’t need to associate with them.
            When possible, I will note their characters … for others to take note of … and what I see as their failings … but I don’t necessarily want to kill them.

            I think there’s only a couple I’d want to be ‘alone’ with for a short time … with no witnesses. But since the odds are against that happening, I have to let it go. It would be a bad thing for my own health to carry it ‘out there’ all the time.
            Perhaps I become blasé … yes, because I can’t change the horrible bits of life which are not caused by me. It’s simple. I am FREE. The bastards can’t touch the ‘ME’ of me. And the ‘Intellectuals’ as you call them, live in a world of theory.
            Some theories are nice to contemplate … and yet, so many are impractical possibilities that it isn’t worth noting, considering the way people actually work – or the way Physics works.
            So .. why worry?
            But keep track .. be aware .. and some day you bring out a fact.
            Maybe enough of a fact to be hatefully, logically, correct, and with the right timing, you can just kill the concept … if not the head that thought it was right. 😉

            And really, I could just whack in lines here, like the ASSHOLE ‘Me-Mo’ below who can’t stop barking at you, but that wouldn’t be logical. Can’t change total ignorance, no matter how much you try.

  • vs

    Syria: Turkey’s attempt to attack the IS would be aggression against a sovereign country

    • Hind Abyad

      Propagandist of the worst kind aren’t you. Syria never said that, they are fighting ISIS.

      • 5thDrawer

        Meanwhile … in the Turkey we love … all ‘types’ reside …
        “But some of the deadly violence has been blamed on clashes between PKK supporters and backers of the Kurdish/Sunni fundamentalist group Huda-Par which is sympathetic to ISIS.”

  • Hind Abyad

    Qatar and Saudi Arabia have ignited a time bomb by funding global spread of radical Islam (US-EU allies)..what a mess.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/11140860/Qatar-and-Saudi-Arabia-have-ignited-time-bomb-by-funding-global-spread-of-radical-Islam.html

  • TheUSequalsTheIS

    which allies? the IS or al-qaida? or al-nusra? the US already bombs them in iraq bcos there they are enemies

    • 5thDrawer

      Sound like a plan .. bomb them all. 😉

      • TheUSequalsTheIS

        never gonna happen since the US loves the IS.

        • 5thDrawer

          The ‘Beauty’ of ‘Coalition’ is, the partners are watching. And doing their own hits too. Everyone can tell when someone’s not pulling their ‘weight’ on a ‘team’. Any Fiddle-Farting is being noticed ….

          Besides that, ‘The West’ people are catching up to ISIS ‘on-line’ ….
          This was ISIS …..
          http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28246732
          Now, there is ……
          http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29535343
          “The hashtag was the brainchild of the Active Change Foundation, an organisation dedicated to fighting extremism.
          Hanif Qadir of ACF said he and the young people at the organisation came up with the campaign because the broad mass of ordinary Muslim voices couldn’t be heard. They wanted to take back online space occupied by IS.
          “It’s a simple message,” he says. “It’s Muslims [and] non-Muslims saying no way, not in the name of Islam, and not in the name of any faith or humanity, It’s a very very powerful message and very simple.”
          (of course, one needs a cell-phone, a net, electricity, and to be able to read)

  • vs

    Egyptian tanks shelled terrorists in Sinai, killed 15 militants

    • 5thDrawer

      good, good .. it’s all good …

      • 5thDrawer

        And Today the Egyptians are attacking Universities … just like the Iranians did.
        (probably the engineers … hehehehe)

  • vs

    Democrats will lose their majority in the Senate because of the frustration of Americans in Obama http://lenta.ru/articles/2014/10/09/voteusa/

    • 5thDrawer

      I heard it was the Republicans going down, since they didn’t read facts about ‘Gays’, ‘Immigrants’, ‘Gun-lobbies’, or even ‘Health Care’. 🙂

  • vs

    Kim Jong Un took sick leave for 100 days http://lenta.ru/news/2014/10/11/kim/

  • vs

    Department of State: Turkey has agreed to train and arm the Syrian opposition

  • vs

    Unrest in the Delta of the Nile, there are victims

  • vs

    The number of deaths from Ebola exceeded four thousand

  • vs

    Number of victims of the riots in Turkey reached 37 people. They were killed during the riots provoked discontent Kurdish population in the inaction of Ankara against the backdrop of fierce fighting in the Syrian territory in Kobani

  • vs

    In Yemen, a military patrol vehicle was blown up, there are victims

  • Hind Abyad

    Thank you for the newscasts vs, we know them.

    • vs

      Thank You

  • vs

    Kurdish militia urged the coalition to strike more intensively at militants of the terrorist organization “Islamic state” who are taking over the city of Cobani on the Turkish border.
    Kurdish militias fear of imminent defeat without external assistance. Air strikes relief situation, but the onslaught of the Islamists is still very strong.

  • vs

    “Barcelona” has officially supported the Catalan referendum http://lenta.ru/news/2014/10/11/barca/

  • Btru2u

    American cowardly intervention simply allows ASSHEAD the space to butcher his opponents.
    The United States’ focus on the Islamic State has given cover to Syrian forces, they say. That has freed Mr. Assad’s military from worrying about checking the militant group’s advances and allowed them to continue to focus attacks on the greater political threat — less extreme Syrian-based insurgent groups bent on ousting Mr. Assad and the communities where they hold sway.

    The Syrian government had long focused its attacks on insurgents other than the Islamic State, a group that had seemed more interested in establishing Islamic rule in its territories than in ousting Mr. Assad. But after the group overran parts of Iraq and carried out a series of lightning routs of Syrian Army bases, terrifying many government supporters, Syrian warplanes began attacking it with more intensity in its eastern strongholds.

    • 5thDrawer

      Good to see you’re still kicking, Btr2u. 🙂

      ALL the stories must, and will, come out.
      The depravity of the sub-humans of ISIS and other so-called ‘terrorists’ like the ‘Boko Haram’ types WILL be known.
      “The other women who spoke to the AP described difficult conditions, where the militant fighters would deprive them of enough food, water or even a place to sit. They all reported having seen dozens of other Yazidi women and children as young as 5 years old in captivity, and they all said that they have relatives who are still missing.
      Amsha Ali, a 19-year-old, said she was taken from Sinjar to Mosul. Ali was around six months pregnant at the time. The last she saw of her husband and other men in her family as she was being dragged off, was the scene of the militants forcing them to lie on the ground, apparently to shoot them. Ali agreed to be identified, saying she wanted the ordeals of the women to be known.”
      Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Oct-11/273749-iraqi-yazidi-girl-tells-of-captivity-with-isis.ashx#ixzz3FpwbNgB6

      • 5thDrawer

        And maybe you don’t like Kurds either … but I’m sure they don’t care.

        Asya Abdullah, a co-leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) representing Syrian Kurds, told the BBC that they were ready to work with US-led coalition forces.
        “We have provided coalition forces with the coordinates of IS targets on the ground and are willing to continue providing any help they will request,” she said.
        http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29556005

        (please note ‘she said’.)