2014 photo posted on ISIS media account, Syria watchers say the weapon is a Croatian RBG-6 grenade launcher, a weapon supplied to the Syrian rebels through the Saudi and CIA effort to transfer Balkan weapons to Syrian jihadists
From CBSnews.com coverage:
The fight for Mosul was a heavy defeat in Baghdad’s battle against a widening insurgency by a breakaway al Qaeda group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been trying – with some success – to seize territory both in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Earlier this year, the group captured another Iraqi city, Fallujah, in the west of the country, and government forces have been unable to take it back after months of fighting. The far larger Mosul is an even more strategic prize. The city and surrounding Ninevah province are a major export route for Iraqi oil and a gateway to Syria.
Regaining Mosul poses a daunting challenge for al-Maliki. The city has a Sunni Muslim majority and many in the community are already deeply embittered against his Shiite-led government. During the nearly nine-year American presence in the country, Mosul was a major stronghold for al Qaeda and U.S. and Iraqi forces carried out repeated offensives there, regaining a semblance of control but never routing the insurgents entirely.
Islamic militants and Iraqi troops have been fighting for days in Mosul. But Monday night and into early Tuesday, the government forces in the city appeared to collapse.
Insurgents overran the Ninevah provincial government building in the city – a key symbol of state control – in the evening, and security forces fled many of their posts. The fighters stormed police stations, bases and prisons, capturing weapons and freeing prisoners.
ISIS (or alternately ISIL: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) gained its immense strength fighting in Syria, where it enjoyed the benefits of being allied with those awash in American/Qatari/Saudi cash and weapons. I’ve watched some of their propaganda videos and can’t help but notice how professional they are in terms of their gear, technology, online media presence, and general bearing and appearance. ISIS has all the marks of outside state sponsorship -likely Saudi intelligence with remote help from CIA, as both entities are part of the same network of training/funding for the Syrian insurgency.
Though ISIS has been chiefly battling Nusra and FSA groups over the past year, it also has a history of fighting alongside so-called “moderate” Syrian groups depending on geography and circumstance. See Oxford scholar and Middle East analyst Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi:
Another prominent FSA battalion in the Aleppo area with which ISIS generally maintains cordial relations is Liwa al-Tawhid, whose ideological orientation is in line with that of the Ikhwan. In July 2013, rumors began circulating–in origin from pro-Supreme Military Command circles (affiliated with General Salim Idriss)–that the rebel icon from Jarabulus, Abu Furat, had been killed by “Islamists” (i.e., JN/ISIS). However, Liwa al-Tawhid soon issued a statement denying that this was so, describing such rumors as an attempt by Western powers to stir up fitna(discord) in rebel ranks through the Arabic news channel al-Arabiya. More recently, an image was put out showing a member of Liwa al-Tawhid in Aleppo engaging in a friendly arm-wrestling match with an ISIS fighter (Appendix, Figure 10).
Like the mujahideen in Afghanistan, the Syrian battlefield has seen constant shifting rebel alliances. See this report:
Cooperation between the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, continues even as the FSA tries to obtain more American arms.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Syrian Revolutionaries Front, an FSA element, has teamed up with Jabhat al-Nusra in recent weeks in attempts to capture strategic hilltops in Syria’s southwestern Quneitra province overlooking the Israel-held Golan Heights.
“The FSA and Nusra Front are cooperating on the front line,” Abu Omar Golani, the Syrian Revolutionaries Front’s media coordinator, told the Journal.
The idea that the various Al-Qaeda groups among the Syrian insurgents are somehow distinct from a supposedly secular and moderate FSA is a myth promoted in Western propaganda. The US government is now openly admitting to funding, training, and weaponizing the Syrian rebels; simply put, the US government is providing material support to Al-Qaeda and its allies.
But what’s funny is that with the ISIS takeover of Fallujah and Mosul, Western politicians and media are expressing outrage that the AQ flag could be flying over Iraqi cities. Yet it was NATO supported AQ fighters who were the first in history to fly the AQ flag over the Mediterranean during the Kessab offensive (the Armenian Christian town in the news a few months ago).
The day was March 29, 2014 – US/NATO backed Qaeda death squads, after cleansing Kessab of its Christian and civilian population, posed for a shot over the Mediterranean. There was not a peep about this historic photo, which was posted on jihadi websites and circulated widely among professional Syria analysts:
In Iraq, the US is arming the government against the rebels. In Syria, the US is arming the rebels against the government. But here is the irony: the rebels in Iraq are allies of the rebels in Syria, while the Iraqi government is aligned with the government of Syria. Figure it out.