A spokesman for the primary rebel alliance in Syria, known as the “Free Syrian Army,” threatened that opposition forces could start implementing a broad ethnic-cleansing program aimed at Shia Muslims and especially the Islamic Alawite sect to which dictator Bashar al-Assad belongs. As Obama administration-led Western powers and a coalition of Sunni Arab dictators continue to fuel the increasingly ruthless conflict, the rebel FSA spokesperson said in a TV interview that minority communities would be “wiped off the map” if the regime’s forces managed to capture the city of Al-Qusair.
The genocide announcement came shortly after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted his Senate Foreign Relations Committee colleagues for voting to arm the rebels, many of whom openly fight under the banner of al-Qaeda. “This is an important moment,” Sen. Paul said about the vote. “You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda.” While the U.S. government has been supporting the opposition since before open warfare began, Obama has ramped up that support to unprecedented levels. And now, a Senate committee has expressed its backing for arming groups that openly threaten to exterminate minorities.
According to a report in Bloomberg, rebel Free Syrian Army “Colonel” Abdel-Hamid Zakaria made the threat to exterminate minority-denomination Muslims in Syria during an interview from Turkey last week with Al-Arabiya television. “We don’t want this to happen, but it will be a reality imposed on everyone,” Zakaria said during the interview, referring to his alliance wiping certain minority communities off the map if regime forces succeeded in taking Al-Qusair. “It’s going to be an open, sectarian, bloody war to the end.”
The city in question, located in central Syria’s Homs province, is seen as crucial due to its strategic location along a major highway connecting the capital Damascus to the coast. It is considered extremely important by rebel forces, which rely on it to obtain weapons and supplies from neighboring Lebanon. For the regime, the city’s value is obvious as it continues to wage war on foreign-backed Islamists described by officials as “armed terrorist groups.”
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Photo of “Free Syrian Army” soldiers: AP Images