Syrian rebels call for Iraq-style US airstrikes against ISIS
“We call on the international community to use the American air force, or those of any other country to support the Free Syrian Army,” the opposition coalition said on Saturday, as the Islamic State continues to advance towards rebel-held Allepo, at a time when the US continues to strike ISIS positions in neighboring Iraq.
The leader of SNC Hadi al-Bahra made his heartfelt appeal to the international community at a news conference in Turkey.
“In the name of humanity, I call on the United Nations and all countries which believe in freedom, starting with the United States, to take action in Syria the same way as it did in Iraqi Kurdistan,” he said as cited by AFP.
However, as Al Jazeera has learned from sources inside the opposition, it was US officials who reportedly asked the SNC to appeal to the international community to carry out Iraq-style pinpoint airstrikes on the jihadist positions in Syria.
“The causes are the same, the enemy is the same, and double standards should not apply,” said the leader of the exiled Syrian opposition group.
The US meanwhile is continuing its airstrike campaign in Iraq with at least nine attacks in Iraq’s Kurdistan confirmed by US military on Saturday. Washington perceives its military involvement as a protection of US facilities and personnel in Iraq as well as helping the Iraqi government to deliver humanitarian relief to those who are suffering and to stop IS advancement on Baghdad. At the same time the US and EU are mulling direct arms supplies to Iraqi Kurds.
In Syria however, the military wing of the SNC in Syria – the Free Syrian Arm –is facing a great armed challenge as Islamic State advances towards the rebel stronghold Aleppo, which is also under assault by the government forces, forcing the rebels to concentrate on both fronts.
“The Syrian Coalition calls for targeted air strikes in Syria. Strikes should be backed up by intensive train and equip programmes for the moderate Syrian opposition forces that have been effectively fighting ISIS for over a year,” the coalition's Special Representative to the UN, Najib Ghadbian, told Al Jazeera, while another source said that SNC was “getting different promises” from Washington.
In Syria, Islamic State fighters have overrun nearly a dozen towns and villages in Aleppo province this week, crushing what little resistance they have encountered. On Saturday radicals advanced to Marea and Aazaz.
“The pressure is now on Marea, militarily,” said activist Abu Omar, spokesman for the town's “revolutionary council.”
“The rebels consider this to be one of the most important battles against the IS... There's no question of losing,” he told AFP, speaking via the Internet.
The plea for US-led strikes in Syria comes as reports emerged of some 700 tribal members in eastern Syria being slaughtered by the jihadists over the past two weeks.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced on Saturday that the Islamic State carried out the killings in the Deir al-Zor province, after capturing it and declaring it part of the caliphate.