Report: Half of Syrian Rebel Forces are Jihadists

YERUSHALAYIM -

Will toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad be good for the Jews or bad for the Jews?

The answer to that question depends in large part on who would replace him, and according to a report from London intelligence and defense consultancy IHS Janes, there are about 1,000 answers to that question.

That’s because the groups fighting to remove Assad number about 1,000, half of them  jihadists or Islamic extremists, according to IHS Janes, as quoted in Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.

The study said that around 10,000 fighters were linked to al- Qaida; 30,000-35,000 were Islamists whose ideology overlap with the jihadists’ but are focused on the Syrian war rather than global jihad; and another 30,000 fighters of Islamic character — including the Muslim Brotherhood and others — leaving a relatively small contingent of non-Islamists fighting for more nationalistic goals.

Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria at Tel Aviv University, told The Jerusalem Post that the IHS Janes report confirmed previous opinions that the jihadists constitute a minority,  though a significant one.

“In any case, when we are talking about Syrians, we have to remember that things are fluid — one day a person could be part of a certain group, and the next day, another,” he said, calling the report “interesting and indicative of radicalization as time goes by.”

Jonathan Spyer, a Middle East analyst and senior research fellow at the GLORIA Center (Global Research in International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya), said the report “offers the latest confirmation that the armed Syrian rebels consist of a clear majority of Sunni Islamists,” adding that it refutes certain recent claims to the contrary.