A report by the Telegraph (a UK news source) has estimated that roughly 60,000 to 65,000 of the rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s in Syria are either Jihadists or are linked to heavily Islamic leaning factions.
With there being about 100,000 rebels fighting the Assad regime this means that the majority of rebels are either specifically fighting for Jihad or are at least likely fighting against the Assad regime for control in their region, rather than to restore the human rights that have been abolished under Assad.
The problem that the United States faces in this arena is a moral dilemma because of the fact that the United States has been supplying the rebels with arms. The fear being that if and when the Assad regime is overthrown, the rebels who are linked to Islamic protocol will use said arms to further the Islamic agenda in the region.
One of the major groups that are involved in the rebel movement is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS). ISIS has been featured in international news often lately as a militia terrorist group that has been credited with committing atrocities in the Middle East.
It has become increasingly difficult for the United States to continue to back the rebels in good faith who are largely consisted of non-secular factions. What is important to keep in mind though is that if the United States were to withdraw its backing, less necessary support goes to the rebels putting a victory in serious doubt.
There is fear that if a majority of the rebels that overthrows Assad are leaning towards Islamic tendencies then the overthrow will be based around installing an Islamic based territory with a good chance of Sharia Law being instituted.
This would be counterproductive in the sense that the Western aim of backing the overthrow was to remove a totalitarian government that severely infringed on the human rights of those living under his regime, while ISIS is more or less known as a terrorist organization that is based in Iraq and Syria.
The Straits Times reports that ISIS “follows an extreme interpretation of Islam which is anti-Western, promotes sectarian violence and targets those that do not agree with its interpretations as infidels and apostates” Alex Johnson of NBC News writes that “ISIS' stated goal is to restore the "caliphate" — an Islamic state under the rule of a community of religious scholars guided by a supreme leader, the caliph or khalifah, which is generally taken to mean the successor to the Prophet Muhammad.”
ISIS has been accused of crimes against humanity in situations such as “mass atrocities and war crimes” by the United Nations in 2014 as well as religious prosecution against persons with different religious beliefs (mainly of “Shia Muslims, indigenous Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac and Armenian Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Shabaks and Mandeans” in particular). In June of 2014 ISIS issued a statement that declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be the successor of Muhammad and therefore the leader of ISIS.
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