US-Backed Rebels Fight Each Other in Syria as Besieged Civilians Starve to Death

February 18th, 2016 - by admin

Jason Ditz / & Holly Williams / CBS Evening News – 2016-02-18 02:33:56

US-Backed Rebels Fight One Another in Northern Syria

US-Backed Rebels Fight One Another in Northern Syria
Jason Ditz /

(February 17, 2016) — The recent Syrian military offensive in Aleppo Province has the US keen to throw even more aid at rebel factions, including some Islamist-leaning groups. Hassan Haj Ali, the commander of the Falcons of Mount Zawiya Brigade, confirmed that his forces have been the recipients of US arms recently.

This was done with an eye toward them fighting the Syrian military, and maybe ISIS, but instead they’re locked in a growing battle with the Kurdish YPG, itself the recipient of massive amounts of US weaponry, meaning once again two US-armed factions are in open war in Syria.

Ali says that the US had promised “they’d put pressure on the Kurds to stop the clashes,” but that so far there was no sign of the YPG slowing its offensive. The YPG have been trying to make their way across a strip of land in northern Aleppo in an offensive aimed at ISIS territory nearby.

US efforts to arm rebel factions initially focused on the Free Syrian Army, but as the group became increasingly irrelevant on the ground, the US began courting other rebel factions they thought were more capable of fighting ISIS, but as they added to the number of factions they were arming in this increasingly complex war, it was inevitable they’d be on both sides of some fights.

US-backed Rebel Groups in Syria Reportedly Fighting Each Other
Holly Williams / CBS News

(February 17, 2016) — The prospects for a truce in Syria are dimming by the day as Russian warplanes keep up their brutal bombing in support of the Assad dictatorship.

In a video that surfaced online, a little boy waved his hand from beneath the rubble of a shattered building, telling rescue workers he was still alive. Seconds later they freed him, bloodied but still breathing. In another they dug frantically for a baby, but it was too late when they got to the child.

CBS News can’t independently verify the videos, but they appear to show the Syrian regime’s new offensive in Aleppo Province, which is backed by Russian airstrikes.

Hassan Haj Ali is a rebel commander who told us his men have received weapons from the US and are trying to fight off the assault.

“When the regime kills women and children,” he said, “they’re telling Syrians to get out of rebel-held areas.”

As the regime and Russia bombard Aleppo Province, the battlefield there has become even more chaotic. Now there’s evidence that groups supported by the US have started to fight each other as they vie for territory.

Hassan Haj Ali, along with other US-backed commanders, said they’re clashing with Kurdish fighters — and the Kurdish group also receives American support.

“Our American friends said they’d put pressure on the Kurds to stop the clashes,” he told us, “but there’s no sign that’s happened.”

The glimmer of good news from Syria is that aid convoys carrying food and medicine made it to areas besieged by fighting on Wednesday. One of those towns is Madaya, where there have been reports of people starving to death.

Copyright 2016 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.