Syrian Opposition: Fighters For Freedom Or Bandits? – OpEd


By Ilya Kharlamov

Fierce battles are now taking place in Syria between supporters and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad. But the verbal battles in the world’s media sources, when it comes to the Syrian theme, are probably no less fierce.

Recently, some Israeli media sources said that the UK and Qatar had allegedly sent their forces to Syria to help the Syrian opposition.

Then, the Chinese newspaper “People’s Daily,”with a reference to certain Arab sources, wrote that Iran, which is known for its friendly attitude to Bashar Assad’s regime, had allegedly sent 15 thousand servicemen to help Mr. Assad to stay in power. The Chinese newspaper said that these Iranian servicemen will be quartered in Syria’s key provinces to help the authorities to suppress the opposition.

Meanwhile, Israeli website “Debkafile” writes that the UK and Qatari servicemen are not taking part in military actions but are training opposition militants and supplying them with weapons and communication equipment.

It is rather hard to either confirm or deny this information, because the situation in Syria is now very unstable, and contradictory reports are coming from there. However, the head of the Iranian Mehr News Agency Reza Moghaddasi denies that Iran has sent or is planning to send any servicemen to Syria. He adds that Iran does not intend to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs but would be glad if democratic reforms were held in Syria.

A media source in China has said that Beijing had allegedly supplied weapons to Bashar Assad’s regime, but China’s government has denied this.

Russian analyst Ankhar Kochneva believes that the information that the UK and Qatar has allegedly sent servicemen to Syria is spread by the Syrian opposition. “It is a mere provocation,” Ms. Kochneva says:

“Recently, a group of Syrian opposition militants captured 11 Iranians who were on pilgrimage to Syria to worship Shiite shrines there. Threatening them with guns, the militants made these Iranians testify to cameras that they allegedly were Iranian servicemen, and that in total, Iran’s government had sent 15 thousand such servicemen to Syria.”

“However,” Ms. Kochneva continues, “these Iranians were released several hours before the news about these alleged Iranian servicemen in Syria appeared in the press.”

“It looks even more like a provocation if we take into consideration that Bashar Assad’s regime has a strong army of its own. It doesn’t need helpers from abroad to defend itself. At present, there are about 300 thousand regular servicemen in the Syrian army, and about one half of the country’s men are reserve soldiers.”

“Still, I don’t rule out that Iran may decide to help the Assad regime with force,” another Russian analyst, Vladimir Sazhin, says:

“Iran and Syria has been allies for a long time. We all know that at present Iran is practically in political isolation from the rest of the world. In fact, there remains only one regime in the world with which Iran still has good relations – Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria. Of course, Iran doesn’t want to lose the only ally it still has, and it would do all it can to help Mr. Assad to stay in power.”

Recently, Syria’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad spoke very critical about the approach of the West, Israel and several Arab states towards the Syrian problem. He believes that these countries are involved into an intricate plot, the aim of which is to oust President Assad. But a fall of Assad’s regime, Mr. Mikdad is convinced, can have only one result – a total chaos in Syria. The Syrian opposition’s leaders are mainly drug barons and other sorts of criminals, Mr. Mikdad claims.

At the same time, he supports the position of Russia and China that the world should start a constructive dialogue with the Syrian opposition. In his interview, Mr. Mikdad praised Russia and China for blocking the UN Security Council’s resolution on Syria, for the resolution, in fact, supported the side of Bashar Assad, instead of taking the interests of both sides into consideration.

Unfortunately, it looks like few politicians besides Mr. Mikdad are supporting Moscow’s and Beijing’s position on Syria.

Recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the West’s reaction to the results of the voting over the UN Security Council’s resolution “hysterical.”

The Syrian opposition also seems to be irritated that Russia has not taken its side. According to information possessed by CNN TV channel, Bashar al-Assad’s opponents are planning many thousand-strong anti-Russian rallies. It may be expected that these rallies will be highlighted in Western media sources even more thoroughly than the Syrian opposition’s military actions.

Well, it looks like the Syrian opposition is not scrupulous at all in choosing its means. In what they pretend to be their fight for freedom and democracy, they don’t stop at killing civilians or, say, attacking peaceful missions from abroad.

Several days ago, they invented another trick. They said that the Syrian government’s air forces had bombed a city in Syria. Roofs of several houses of this city were really on fire, but in fact, the fire had nothing to do with any bombings. It was set by members of the opposition themselves, who put automobile tires on the roofs and set them on fire.

It may be supposed that the Syrian opposition made this show to attract foreign forces to help “fighters for Syria’s freedom” against “the totalitarian and barbaric regime of Bashar al-Assad.”


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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