Despite facing common enemies in the Assad regime and Islamic State/ISIS terrorist group, Syrian rebels appear as fractured as ever.
As Syria’s bloody civil war continues to rage on with no end in sight, a recent video obtained and translated by MEMRI offered an insight into the tensions simmering between different rebel battalions – including rival Islamist groups.
The video shows an angry group of fighters from several allied battalions belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – a loose coalition of rebel groups – clashing with members of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
The FSA fighters were led by Sharif Al-Safouri, Commander of the Haramain Battalion, who claimed that Nusra fighters had stolen war booty taken from Assad regime troops.
“As we were loading the booty taken from the Bashar Al-Assad regime… We in the Haramain Battalion were loading the booty, along with the Murabiteen Battalion and the Al-Sabatten Battalion. Then we were attacked by Jabhat Al-Nusra people, who brandished their weapons in our faces,” he says. “They brandished their weapons at their Muslim brothers. Everybody here can attest to that.”
After a brief tussle with a masked Nusra Front fighter Al-Safouri can be heard shouting: “Aren’t we Muslims?! Aren’t we Muslims?! They are not our brothers. Anyone who points his gun at me is no brother of mine.”
“See what kind of foreign fighters have come to our aid… They point their guns at their Muslim brothers,” he adds sarcastically of the Nusra fighters, many of whom are non-Syrians.
At one point other commanders direct the camera to the Nusra commander, calling for him to be punished.
Despite the angry protests it appears that the detachment of Nusra fighters were able to make off with the weapons – an illustration of just how much more powerful the Al Qaeda affiliate is than many other rival rebel groups.
In fact, according to MEMRI, the angry exchange backfired completely on Al-Safouri, who was arrested by Nusra and forced to “confess” to being a collaborator with Israel – a charge which could result in his execution.