More than 50% of Syria’s rebels are foreigners

Syria-rebels1The number of foreign fighters in the Syrian war has reached an alarming point and citizens in the rebel controlled areas are worried about it. Most of the fighters come from the Middle East and North Africa and they have started playing prominent authoritative roles in the rebel zones. Some of the fighters are alleged to be jihadi volunteers.
The Syrian rebels are now estimated to be heavily outnumbered by foreign fighters.  According to residents and analysts, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Libya dominate the rankings while Chechnya, Kuwait, Jordan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates maintain respectable figures.
There are fears that Syria could be used as a platform to propagate the beliefs of Al-Qaeda in the Middle East and beyond. Some of the fighters serve as battlefield commanders, others rule over towns and cities while some oversee checkpoints.
Brian Fishman, a former counterterrorism official who served in Iraq with West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, said Syria has “a lot more foreigners than we ever saw in Iraq, and there’s going to be a lot more.” He added that they have been controlling and governing the people and have been demonstrating “a level of ability” that wasn’t manifested in Iraq.
The foreign fighters mostly believed to be Islamists have fought several times with rebels of the Free Syrian Army. Both parties share different goals. The Free Syrian Army is interested in removing Assad from power while the Islamists have widely declared that they are focused on establishing an Islamic state. The Islamists are also reported to be divided between the moderate and the extremists although there is yet to be a major breakdown.
Their differences could be advantageous to President Assad as he tries to reassert his authority over Syria.

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