The name Free Syrian Army or FSA is often tossed about as a group of moderates or seculars the US should support in trying to overthrow Assad. There are claims that the FSA has up to 50,000 fighters. This cannot possibly be the case, but they may have as many as 20,000. Only 10% of the Syrian rebels consist of the FSA. The other 90% are Islamist jihadis of all types. 90% of the weapons that the US gives to the FSA actually end up with the real jihadis, usually Al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda faction in Syria. So most US weaponry given to Syrian rebels ends up with Al Qaeda.
The FSA is viciously sectarian, and even the most secular and moderate group of them all refers to Alawites by the pejorative term “Nusairis.”
When the FSA took over the city of Homs, one of the first things that they did was to evict all of the city’s 50,000 Christians. Whenever any rebel group, FSA or jihadi, takes over a town, they destroy or burn down any churches in town. The FSA, along with Al-Nusra, took part in a savage massacre of Christians in which ~50 Christians, including women and children, where slaughtered in vicious ways. The Syrian Christians very much dislike the FSA and say they are radical Muslims who persecute Christians.
There have been many massacres in this war. What happens is that some armed force enters a town, rounds up all the civilians and kills them or goes door to door and kills them. They are often killed in terrible ways and also mutilated. After the massacre occurs, the rebels, often the FSA, announce that Assad’s forces committed the massacre. However, it is mostly Alawites, Christians and Syrians who support the regime who are being slaughtered in these massacres. There is no reason for the Assad regime to kill anyone in those three categories, as those are its supporters.
Reports afterwards are often conflicting, but investigators have learned that all or nearly all of these village massacres were done by the rebels and few if any were done by the Syrian Arab Army or SAA. The FSA, either alone or with Al-Nusra, was the guilty party in most of these horrific massacres.
There is a striking similarity to these massacres which bear an uncanny resemblance to the ways that the GIA takfiri jihadis in Algeria were slaughtering villagers in the Algerian Civil War of the 1990’s.
Assad is still being charged by the Western press with committing a lot of these massacres when he probably committed none of them. The reason that Assad probably did not do even one of these massacres is not because Assad is a nice guy. He’s clearly not. But when the regime violates human rights, they don’t go into villages and slaughter all of the civilians.
Instead they drop barrel bombs on cities, carry out drive by assassinations, or arrest people and then beat or torture them to death, often in military prisons. That’s the way they do it.
There is no way that the FSA is anywhere near as secular as Assad. If any rebel coalition took power, Syria could become a much less secular place.
Many FSA members, after being trained and armed by the US, left the FSA and joined Al-Nusra, ISIS or one of the other jihadi groups. Furthermore, many of the jihadi groups are constantly rebranding themselves as “FSA” in order to get legitimacy. The FSA doesn’t even really exist. There is no overall command structure. Instead the FSA is simply a number of fighting groups who happen to call themselves FSA. If you call yourself FSA, then you are FSA. It is more of a brand like Al Qaeda than a coherent organization. What is “FSA” today probably will not be “FSA” tomorrow.
The FSA has been fighting alongside jihadis like Nusra from day one. In fact, most FSA groups are now part of factions that are led by Al-Nusra. So most of the FSA fights alongside Al Qaeda or is part of an Al Qaeda led coalition.
In addition, quite a few FSA factions appear to be jihadi wolves themselves who have donned sheep’s clothing in order to appear moderate and mostly to get US weapons.
The Syria’s Civil War subreddit is one of the best sites out there to keep you up to date on everything that is happening in this war. There are many FSA supporters on there. Their behavior is most interesting. Anytime any jihadi group, including Nusra or ISIS, makes any progress against the SAA, all of the FSA supporters cheer like wild.
Yes that is right, all of the FSA supporters on that subreddit cheer for ISIS and Al Qaeda.
The FSA itself is full of jihadis and at any rate often fights alongside Al Qaeda or other jihadis. Most FSA factions are presently under the command of Al Qaeda.
For those reasons, I simply cannot support the FSA. The FSA just looks like Al Qaeda or radical Islam to me.
As you can see, the moderate rebels in this fight are quite rare if they even exist at all.