In the context of the reconciliation agreements, the Syrian Arab Army has created a new force to welcome members of the Syrian Free Army who have been granted an amnesty: the Army of the Tribes. This will be led by Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Rifaï (at the centre of the photo).

In July 2011, France set up the Free Syrian Army (FSL). Purportedly commanded by Colonel Riad el Asaad (who is not related to the family of the Head of State), it is claimed that this army would have been composed of those who deserted the Syrian Arab Army - who refused to follow the orders of the “regime”. The FSL flag is that of the French colonial occupation, maintained even for some time after independence. However, since the Western Secret Services did not manage to find the deserters announced, they turned to the Libyan jihadists with which they had just toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

In November 2011, Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative and the former General Secretary of Amnesty International, Ian Martin, organized for 1,500 jihadists from Al-Qaeda to be transferred by boat to Turkey. There, they had been placed under the authority of Abdelhakim Belhadj (al-Qaeda’s former number three) and Mehdi Al-Harati (former leader of the Freedom Flotilla for Gaza). Once they had disembarked in Turkey, they were transported by buses hired by the MIT (Turkish Secret Services) to Jabal Al-Zouia, Syria, where in a month they formed a “rebel village” under the awe-struck eyes of Western TVs.

From July 2012, the FSL had been recruiting Syrian combatants, but only from among the tribal populations. In 2013, one of its leaders, Khalid Al-Hamad, posted a video where you see him eating the heart of a soldier from the Syrian Arab Army and announcing the fate that he is reserving for the Alaouites. In 2015, when the FSL had disappeared, Turkey resurrected its acronym and symbols to recruit some of its combatants.

Contrary to declarations by the Western Press, the ambitions of the FSL never included democracy nor tolerance for religious pluralism.

According to Al-Watan, 160 members of the FSL’s al-Omari Brigades, probably immediately joined the Army of the Tribes.

Anoosha Boralessa